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"Who is John Gait?" 

The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum's 
face. The bum had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far 
at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked 
straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still— as if the question had been 
addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him. 

"Why did you say that?" asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense. 

The bum leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass 
behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky. 

"Why does it bother you?" he asked. 

"It doesn't," snapped Eddie Willers. 

He reached hastily into his pocket. The bum had stopped him and asked for 
a dime, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the 
problem of the next. Pleas for dimes were so frequent in the streets these 
days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations, and he had no 
desire to hear the details of this bum's particular despair. 

"Go get your cup of coffee, " he said, handing the dime to the shadow that 
had no face. 

"Thank you, sir, " said the voice, without interest, and the face leaned 
forward for a moment. The face was wind-browned, cut by lines of weariness 
and cynical resignation; the eyes were intelligent. Eddie Willers walked on, 
wondering why he always felt it at this time of day, this sense of dread 
without reason. No, he thought, not dread, there's nothing to fear: just an 
immense, diffused apprehension, with no source or object. He had become 
accustomed to the feeling, but he could find no explanation for it; yet the 
bum had spoken as if he knew that Eddie felt it, as if he thought that one 
should feel it, and more: as if he knew the reason. 

Eddie Willers pulled his shoulders straight, in conscientious self- 
discipline. He had to stop this, he thought; he was beginning to imagine 
things. Had he always felt it? He was thirty-two years old. He tried to think 
back. No, he hadn't; but he could not remember when it had started. The 
feeling came to him Suddenly, at random intervals, and now it was coming more 
often than ever. It's the twilight, he thought; I hate the twilight. 

The clouds and the shafts of skyscrapers against them were turning brown, 
like an old painting in oil, the color of a fading masterpiece. Long streaks 
of grime ran from under the pinnacles down the slender, soot-eaten walls. 
High on the side of a tower there was a crack in the shape of a motionless 
lightning, the length of ten stories. A jagged object cut the sky above the 
roofs; it was half a spire, still holding the glow of the sunset; the gold 
leaf had long since peeled off the other half. The glow was red and still, 
like the reflection of a fire: not an active fire, but a dying one which it 
is too late to stop. 

No, thought Eddie Willers, there was nothing disturbing in the sight of 
the city. It looked as it had always looked. 

He walked on, reminding himself that he was late in returning to the 
office. He did not like the task which he had to perform on his return, but 
it had to be done. So he did not attempt to delay it, but made himself walk 
faster . 

He turned a corner. In the narrow space between the dark silhouettes of 
two buildings, as in the crack of a door, he saw the page of a gigantic 
calendar suspended in the sky. 

It was the calendar that the mayor of New York had erected last year on 
the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as 
they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white 

rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets 
below. In the rusty light of this evening's sunset, the rectangle said: 
September 2 . 

Eddie Willers looked away. He had never liked the sight of that calendar. 
It disturbed him, in a manner he could not explain or define. The feeling 
seemed to blend with his sense of uneasiness; it had the same quality. 

He thought suddenly that there was some phrase, a kind of quotation, that 
expressed what the calendar seemed to suggest. But he could not recall it. He 
walked, groping for a sentence that hung in his mind as an empty shape. He 
could neither fill it nor dismiss it. He glanced back. The white rectangle 
stood above the roofs, saying in immovable finality: September 2. 

Eddie Willers shifted his glance down to the street, to a vegetable 
pushcart at the stoop of a brownstone house. He saw a pile of bright gold 
carrots and the fresh green of onions. He saw a clean white curtain blowing 
at an open window. He saw a bus turning a corner, expertly steered. He 
wondered why he felt reassured— and then, why he felt the sudden, inexplicable 
wish that these things were not left in the open, unprotected against the 
empty space above. 

When he came to Fifth Avenue, he kept his eyes on the windows of the 
stores he passed. There was nothing he needed or wished to buy; but he liked 
to see the display of good?, any goods, objects made by men, to be used by 
men. He enjoyed the sight of a prosperous street; not more than every fourth 
one of the stores was out of business, its windows dark and empty. 

He did not know why he suddenly thought of the oak tree. Nothing had 
recalled it. But he thought of it and of his childhood summers on the Taggart 
estate. He had spent most of his childhood with the Taggart children, and now 
he worked for them, as his father and grandfather had worked for their father 
and grandfather. 

The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot 
of the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at 
that tree. It had stood there for hundreds of years, and he thought it would 
always stand there. Its roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk 
into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he 
would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill and the whole of the 
earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak 
tree's presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was 
his greatest symbol of strength. 

One night, lightning struck the oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning. 
It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a 
black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away 
long ago; there was nothing inside— just a thin gray dust that was being 
dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The living power had gone, and 
the shape it left had not been able to stand without it. 

Years later, he heard it said that children should be protected from 
shock, from their first knowledge of death, pain or fear. But these had never 
scarred him; his shock came when he stood very quietly, looking into the 
black hole of the trunk. It was an immense betrayal— the more terrible because 
he could not grasp what it was that had been betrayed. It was not himself, he 
knew, nor his trust; it was something else. He stood there for a while, 
making no sound, then he walked back to the house. He never spoke about it to 
anyone, then or since. 

Eddie Willers shook his head, as the screech of a -rusty mechanism 
changing a traffic light stopped him on the edge of a curb. He felt anger at 
himself. There was no reason that he had to remember the oak tree tonight. It 
meant nothing to him any longer, only a faint tinge of sadness— and somewhere 
within him, a drop of pain moving briefly and vanishing, like a raindrop on 
the glass of a window, its course in the shape of a question mark. 

He wanted no sadness attached to his childhood; he loved its memories: any 
day of it he remembered now seemed flooded by a still, brilliant sunlight. It 
seemed to him as if a few rays from it reached into his present: not rays, 
more like pinpoint spotlights that gave an occasional moment's glitter to his 
job, to his lonely apartment, to the quiet, scrupulous progression of his 
existence . 

He thought of a summer day when he was ten years old. That day, in a 
clearing of the woods, the one precious companion of his childhood told him 
what they would do when they grew up. The words were harsh and glowing, like 
the sunlight. He listened in admiration and in wonder. When he was asked what 
he would want to do, he answered at once, "Whatever is right, " and added, 
"You ought to do something great ... I mean, the two of us together." 
"What?" she asked. He said, "I don't know. That's what we ought to find out. 
Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like 
winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains." "What 
for?" she asked. He said, "The minister said last Sunday that we must always 
reach for the best within us. What do you suppose is the best within us?" "I 
don't know." "We'll have to find out." She did not answer; she was looking 
away, up the railroad track. 

Eddie Willers smiled. He had said, "Whatever is right," twenty-two years 
ago. He had kept that statement unchallenged ever since; the other questions 
had faded in his mind; he had been too busy to ask them. But he still thought 
it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how 
people could want to do otherwise; he had learned only that they did. It 
still seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be 
right, and incomprehensible that they weren't. He knew that they weren't. He 
thought of that, as he turned a corner and came to the great building of 
Taggart Transcontinental. 

The building stood over the street as its tallest and proudest structure. 
Eddie Willers always smiled at his first sight of it. Its long bands of 
windows were unbroken, in contrast to those of its neighbors. Its rising 
lines cut the sky, with no crumbling corners or worn edges. It seemed to 
stand above the years, untouched. It would always stand there, thought Eddie 
Willers . 

Whenever he entered the Taggart Building, he felt relief and a sense of 
security. This was a place of competence and power. The floors of its 
hallways were mirrors made of marble. The frosted rectangles of its electric 
fixtures were chips of solid light. Behind sheets of glass, rows of girls sat 
at typewriters, the clicking of their keys like the sound of speeding train 
wheels. And like an answering echo, a faint shudder went through the walls at 
times, rising from under the building, from the tunnels of the great terminal 
where trains started out to cross a continent and stopped after crossing it 
again, as they had started and stopped for generation after generation. 
Taggart Transcontinental, thought Eddie Willers, From Ocean to Ocean— the 
proud slogan of his childhood, so much more shining and holy than any 
commandment of the Bible. From Ocean to Ocean, forever— thought Eddie Willers, 
in the manner of a rededication, as he walked through the spotless halls into 
the heart of the building, into the office of James Taggart, President of 
Taggart Transcontinental. 

James Taggart sat at his desk. He looked like a man approaching fifty, who 
had crossed into age from adolescence, without the intermediate stage of 
youth. He had a small, petulant mouth, and thin hair clinging to a bald 
forehead. His posture had a limp, decentralized sloppiness, as if in defiance 
of his tall, slender body, a body with an elegance of line intended for the 
confident poise of an aristocrat, but transformed into the gawkiness of a 
lout. The flesh of his face was pale and soft. His eyes were pale and veiled, 
with a glance that moved slowly, never quite stopping, gliding off and past 

things in eternal resentment of their existence. He looked obstinate and 
drained. He was thirty-nine years old. 

He lifted his head with irritation, at the sound of the opening door. 

"Don't bother me, don't bother me, don't bother me," said James Taggart. 

Eddie Willers walked toward the-desk. 

"It's important, Jim," he said, not raising his voice. 
"All right, all right, what is it?" 

Eddie Willers looked at a map on the wall of the office. The map's colors 
had faded under the glass— he wondered dimly how many Taggart presidents had 
sat before it and for how many years. The Taggart Transcontinental Railroad, 
the network of red lines slashing the faded body of the country from New York 
to San Francisco, looked like a system of blood vessels. It looked as if 
once, long ago, the blood had shot down the main artery and, under the 
pressure of its own overabundance, had branched out at random points, running 
all over the country. One red streak twisted its way from Cheyenne, Wyoming, 
down to El Paso, Texas— the Rio Norte Line of Taggart Transcontinental. New 
tracing had been added recently and the red streak had been extended south 
beyond El Paso— but Eddie Willers turned away hastily when his eyes reached 
that point. 

He looked at James Taggart and said, "It's the Rio Norte Line." He noticed 
Taggart ' s glance moving down to a corner of the desk. "We've had another 
wreck . " 

"Railroad accidents happen every day. Did you have to bother me about 

"You know what I'm saying, Jim. The Rio Norte is done for. That track is 
shot. Down the whole line." 

"We are getting a new track." 

Eddie Willers continued as if there had been no answer: "That track is 
shot. It's no use trying to run trains down there. People are giving up 
trying to use them." 

"There is not a railroad in the country, it seems to me, that doesn't have 
a few branches running at a deficit. We're not the only ones. It's a national 
condition— a temporary national condition." 

Eddie stood looking at him silently. What Taggart disliked about Eddie 
Willers was this habit of looking straight into people's eyes. Eddie's eyes 
were blue, wide and questioning; he had blond hair and a square face, 
unremarkable except for that look of scrupulous attentiveness and open, 
puzzled wonder. 

"What do you want?" snapped Taggart. 

"I just came to tell you something you had to know, because somebody had 
to tell you." 

"That we've had another accident?" 

"That we can't give up the Rio Norte Line." 

James Taggart seldom raised his head; when he looked at people, he did so 
by lifting his heavy eyelids and staring upward from under the expanse of his 
bald forehead. 

"Who's thinking of giving up the Rio Norte Line?" he asked. 

"There's never been any question of giving it up. I resent your saying it. 
I resent it very much." 

"But we haven't met a schedule for the last six months. We haven't 
completed a run without some sort of breakdown, major or minor. We're losing 
all our shippers, one after another. How long can we last?" 

"You're a pessimist, Eddie. You lack faith. That's what undermines the 
morale of an organization." 

"You mean that nothing's going to be done about the Rio Norte Line?" 

"I haven't said that at all. Just as soon as we get the new track-" 

"Jim, there isn't going to be any new track." He watched Taggart ' s eyelids 
move up slowly. "I've just come back from the office of Associated Steel. 
I've spoken to Orren Boyle." 

"What did he say?" 

"He spoke for an hour and a half and did not give me a single straight 
answer . " 

"What did you bother him for? I believe the first order of rail wasn't due 
for delivery until next month." 

"And before that, it was due for delivery three months ago." 

"Unforeseen circumstances. Absolutely beyond Orren ' s control." 

"And before that, it was due six months earlier. Jim, we have waited for 
Associated Steel to deliver that rail for thirteen months." 

"What do you want me to do? I can't run Orren Boyle's business." 

"I want you to understand that we can't wait." 

Taggart asked slowly, his voice half-mocking, half-cautious, "What did my 
sister say?" 

"She won't be back until tomorrow." 
"Well, what do you want me to do?" 
"That's for you to decide." 

"Well, whatever else you say, there's one thing you're not going to 
mention next— and that's Rearden Steel." 

Eddie did not answer at once, then said quietly, "All right, Jim. I won't 
mention it." 

"Orren is my friend." He heard no answer. "I resent your attitude. Orren 
Boyle will deliver that rail just as soon as it's humanly possible. So long 
as he can't deliver it, nobody can blame us." 

"Jim! What are you talking about? Don't you understand that the Rio Norte 
Line is breaking up— whether anybody blames us or not?" 

"People would put up with it— they'd have to— if it weren't for the Phoenix- 
Durango." He saw Eddie's face tighten. "Nobody ever complained about the Rio 
Norte Line, until the Phoenix-Durango came on the scene." 

"The Phoenix-Durango is doing a brilliant job." 

"Imagine a thing called the Phoenix-Durango competing with Taggart 
Transcontinental! It was nothing but a local milk line ten years ago." 

"It's got most of the freight traffic of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado 
now." Taggart did not answer. "Jim, we can't lose Colorado. It's our last 
hope. It's everybody's last hope. If we don't pull ourselves together, we'll 
lose every big shipper in the state to the Phoenix-Durango. We've lost the 
Wyatt oil fields." 

"I don't see why everybody keeps talking about the Wyatt oil fields." 

"Because Ellis Wyatt is a prodigy who—" 

"Damn Ellis Wyatt!" 

Those oil wells, Eddie thought suddenly, didn't they have something in 
common with the blood vessels on the map? Wasn't that the way the red stream 
of Taggart Transcontinental had shot across the country, years ago, a feat 
that seemed incredible now? He thought of the oil wells spouting a black 
stream that ran over a continent almost faster than the trains of the 
Phoenix-Durango could carry it. That oil field had been only a rocky patch in 
the mountains of Colorado, given up as exhausted long ago. Ellis Wyatt ' s 
father had managed to squeeze an obscure living to the end of his days, out 
of the dying oil wells. Now it was as if somebody had given a shot of 
adrenalin to the heart of the mountain, the heart had started pumping, the 
black blood had burst through the rocks— of course it's blood, thought Eddie 
Willers, because blood is supposed to feed, to give life, and that is what 
Wyatt Oil had done. It had shocked empty slopes of ground into sudden 
existence, it had brought new towns, new power plants, new factories to a 
region nobody had ever noticed on any map. New factories, thought Eddie 

Willers, at a time when the freight revenues from all the great old 
industries were dropping slowly year by year; a rich new oil field, at a time 
when the pumps were stopping in one famous field after another; a new 
industrial state where nobody had expected anything but cattle and beets. One 
man had done it, and he had done it in eight years; this, thought Eddie 
Willers, was like the stories he had read in school books and never quite 
believed, the stories of men who had lived in the days of the country's 
youth. He wished he could meet Ellis Wyatt. There was a great deal of talk 
about him, but few had ever met him; he seldom came to New York. They said he 
was thirty-three years old and had a violent temper. He had discovered some 
way to revive exhausted oil wells and he had proceeded to revive them. 

"Ellis Wyatt is a greedy bastard who's after nothing but money," said 
James Taggart. "It seems to me that there are more important things in life 
than making money." 

"What are you talking about, Jim? What has that got to do with—" 
"Besides, he's double-crossed us. We served the Wyatt oil fields for 
years, most adequately. In the days of old man Wyatt, we ran a tank train a 
week . " 

"These are not the days of old man Wyatt, Jim. The Phoenix-Durango runs 
two tank trains a day down there— and it runs them on schedule." 
"If he had given us time to grow along with him—" 
"He has no time to waste." 

"What does he expect? That we drop all our other shippers, sacrifice the 
interests of the whole country and give him all our trains?" 

"Why, no. He doesn't expect anything. He just deals with the Phoenix- 
Durango . " 

"I think he's a destructive, unscrupulous ruffian. I think he's an 
irresponsible upstart who's been grossly overrated." It was astonishing to 
hear a sudden emotion in James Taggart 's lifeless voice. "I'm not so sure 
that his oil fields are such a beneficial achievement. It seems to me that 
he's dislocated the economy of the whole country. Nobody expected Colorado to 
become an industrial state. How can we have any security or plan anything if 
everything changes all the time?" 

"Good God, Jim! He's-" 

"Yes, I know, I know, he's making money. But that is not the standard, it 
seems to me, by which one gauges a man's value to society. And as for his 
oil, he'd come crawling to us. and he'd wait his turn along with all the 
other shippers, and he wouldn't demand more than his fair share of 
transportation— if it weren't for the Phoenix-Durango. We can't help it if 
we're up against destructive competition of that kind. Nobody can blame us." 

The pressure in his chest and temples, thought Eddie Willers, was the 
strain of the effort he was making; he had decided to make the issue clear 
for once, and the issue was so clear, he thought, that nothing could bar it 
from Taggart ' s understanding, unless it was the failure of his own 
presentation. So he had tried hard, but he was failing, just as he had always 
failed in all of their discussions; no matter what he said, they never seemed 
to be talking about the same subject. 

"Jim, what are you saying? Does it matter that nobody blames us— when the 
road is falling apart?" 

James Taggart smiled; it was a thin smile, amused and cold. "It's 
touching, Eddie," he said. "It's touching— your devotion to Taggart 
Transcontinental. If you don't look out, you'll turn into one of those real 
feudal serfs . " 

"That's what I am, Jim." 

"But may I ask whether it is your job to discuss these matters with me?" 
"No, it isn't." 

"Then why don't you learn that we have departments to take care of things? 
Why don't you report all this to whoever 's concerned? Why don't you cry on my 
dear sister's shoulder?" 

"Look. Jim, I know it's not my place to talk to you. But I can't 
understand what's going on. I don't know what it is that your proper advisers 
tell you, or why they can't make you understand. So I thought I'd try to tell 
you myself . " 

"I appreciate our childhood friendship, Eddie, but do you think that that 
should entitle you to walk in here unannounced whenever you wish? Considering 
your own rank, shouldn't you remember that I am president of Taggart 
Transcontinental ? " 

This was wasted. Eddie Willers looked at him as usual, not hurt, merely 
puzzled, and asked, "Then you don't intend to do anything about the Rio Norte 
Line? " 

"I haven't said that. I haven't said that at all." Taggart was looking at 
the map, at the red streak south of El Paso. "Just as soon as the San 
Sebastian Mines get going and our Mexican branch begins to pay off—" 

"Don't let's talk about that, Jim." Taggart turned, startled by the 
unprecedented phenomenon of an implacable anger in Eddie's voice. "What's the 

"You know what's the matter. Your sister said—" 
"Damn my sister!" said James Taggart. 

Eddie Willers did not move. He did not answer. He stood looking straight 
ahead. But he did not see James Taggart or anything in the office. 
After a moment, he bowed and walked out. 

In the anteroom, the clerks of James Taggart 's personal staff were 
switching off the lights, getting ready to leave for the day. But Pop Harper, 
chief clerk, still sat at his desk, twisting the levers of a half -dismembered 
typewriter. Everybody in the company had the impression that Pop Harper was 
born in that particular corner at that particular desk and never intended to 
leave it. He had been chief clerk for James Taggart ' s father. 

Pop Harper glanced up at Eddie Willers as he came out of the president's 
office. It was a wise, slow glance; it seemed to say that he knew that 
Eddie's visit to their part of the building meant trouble on the line, knew 
that nothing had come of the visit, and was completely indifferent to the 
knowledge. It was the cynical indifference which Eddie Willers had seen in 
the eyes of the bum on the street corner. 

"Say, Eddie, know where I could get some woolen undershirts?" he asked, 
"Tried all over town, but nobody's got 'em." 

"I don't know," said Eddie, stopping. "Why do you ask me?" 

"I just ask everybody. Maybe somebody' ! ! tell me." 

Eddie looked uneasily at the blank, emaciated face and white hair. 
"It's cold in this joint," said Pop Harper. "It's going to be colder this 
winter . " 

"What are you doing?" Eddie asked, pointing at the pieces of typewriter. 

"The damn thing's busted again. No use sending it out, took them three 
months to fix it the last time. Thought I'd patch it up myself. Not for long, 
I guess." He let his fist drop down on the keys. "You're ready for the junk 
pile, old pal. Your days are numbered." 

Eddie started. That was the sentence he had tried to remember: Your days 
are numbered. But he had forgotten in what connection he had tried to 
remember it. 

"It's no use, Eddie," said Pop Harper. 

"What's no use?" 

"Nothing. Anything." 

"What's the matter, Pop?" 

"I'm not going to requisition a new typewriter. The new ones are made of 
tin. When the old ones go, that will be the end of typewriting. There was an 
accident in the subway this morning, their brakes wouldn't work. You ought to 
go home, Eddie, turn on the radio and listen to a good dance band. Forget it, 
boy. Trouble with you is you never had a hobby. Somebody stole the electric 
light bulbs again, from off the staircase, down where I live. I've got a pain 
in my chest. Couldn't get any cough drops this morning, the drugstore on our 
corner went bankrupt last week. The Texas-Western Railroad went bankrupt last 
month. They closed the Queensborough Bridge yesterday for temporary repairs. 
Oh well, what's the use? Who is John Gait?" 

-k -k -k 

She sat at the window of the train, her head thrown back, one leg 
stretched across to the empty seat before her. The window frame trembled with 
the speed of the motion, the pane hung over empty darkness, and dots of light 
slashed across the glass as luminous streaks, once in a while. 

Her leg, sculptured by the tight sheen of the stocking, its long line 
running straight, over an arched instep, to the tip of a foot in a high- 
heeled pump, had a feminine elegance that seemed out of place in the dusty 
train car and oddly incongruous with the rest of her. She wore a battered 
camel's hair coat that had been expensive, wrapped shapelessly about her 
slender, nervous body. The coat collar was raised to the slanting brim of her 
hat. A sweep of brown hair fell back, almost touching the line of her 
shoulders. Her face was made of angular planes, the shape of her mouth clear- 
cut, a sensual mouth held closed with inflexible precision. She kept her 
hands in the coat pockets, her posture taut, as if she resented immobility, 
and unfeminine, as if she were unconscious of her own body and that it was a 
woman's body. She sat listening to the music. It was a symphony of triumph. 
The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, 
they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody 
every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst 
of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of 
release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean, and left nothing 
but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds 
spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing 
astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there 
never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance. 

She thought: For just a few moments— while this lasts— it is all right to 
surrender completely— to forget everything and just permit yourself to feel. 
She thought: Let go— drop the controls— this is it. 

Somewhere on the edge of her mind, under the music, she heard the sound of 
train wheels. They knocked in an even rhythm, every fourth knock accented, as 
if stressing a conscious purpose. She could relax, because she heard the 
wheels. She listened to the symphony, thinking: This is why the wheels have 
to be kept going, and this is where they're going. 

She had never heard that symphony before, but she knew that it was written 
by Richard Halley. She recognized the violence and the magnificent intensity. 
She recognized the style of the theme; it was a clear, complex melody— at a 
time when no one wrote melody any longer. . . . She sat looking up at the 
ceiling of the car, but she did not see it and she had forgotten where she 
was. She did not know whether she was hearing a full symphony orchestra or 
only the theme; perhaps she was hearing the orchestration in her own mind. 

She thought dimly that there had been premonitory echoes of this theme in 
all of Richard Halley' s work, through all the years of his long struggle, to 
the day, in his middle-age, when fame struck him suddenly and knocked him 
out. This— she thought, listening to the symphony— had been the goal of his 

struggle. She remembered half-hinted attempts in his music, phrases that 
promised it, broken bits of melody that started but never quite reached it; 
when Richard Halley wrote this, he . . . She sat up straight. When did 
Richard Halley write this? 

In the same instant, she realized where she was and wondered for the first 
time where that music came from. 

A few steps away, at the end of the car, a brakeman was adjusting the 
controls of the air-conditioner. He was blond and young. He was whistling the 
theme of the symphony. She realized that he had been whistling it for some 
time and that this was all she had heard. 

She watched him incredulously for a while, before she raised her voice to 
ask, "Tell me please, what are you whistling?" 

The boy turned to her. She met a direct glance and saw an open, eager 
smile, as if he were sharing a confidence with a friend. She liked his face- 
its lines were tight and firm, it did not have that look of loose muscles 
evading the responsibility of a shape, which she had learned to expect in 
people's faces. 

"It's the Halley Concerto," he answered, smiling. 

"Which one?" 

"The Fifth." 

She let a moment pass, before she said slowly and very carefully, "Richard 
Halley wrote only four concertos." 

The boy's smile vanished. It was as if he were jolted back to reality, 
just as she had been a few moments ago. It was as if a shutter were slammed 
down, and what remained was a face without expression, impersonal, 
indifferent and empty. 

"Yes, of course," he said. "I'm wrong. I made a mistake." 

"Then what was it?" 

"Something I heard somewhere." 


"I don't know." 

"Where did you hear it?" 

"I don't remember." 

She paused helplessly; he was turning away from her without further 
interest . 

"It sounded like a Halley theme," she said. "But I know every note he's 
ever written and he never wrote that." 

There was still no expression, only a faint look of attentiveness on the 
boy's face, as he turned back to her and asked, "You like the music of 
Richard Halley?" 

"Yes," she said, "I like it very much." 

He considered her for a moment, as if hesitating, then he turned away. She 
watched the expert efficiency of his movements as he went on working. He 
worked in silence. 

She had not slept for two nights, but she could not permit herself to 
sleep; she had too many problems to consider and not much time: the train was 
due in New York early in the morning. She needed the time, yet she wished the 
train would go faster; but it was the Taggart Comet, the fastest train in the 
country . 

She tried to think; but the music remained on the edge of her mind and she 
kept hearing it, in full chords, like the implacable steps of something that 
could not be stopped. . . . She shook her head angrily, jerked her hat off 
and lighted a cigarette. 

She would not sleep, she thought; she could last until tomorrow night. . . 
. The train wheels clicked in accented rhythm. She was so used to them that 
she did not hear them consciously, but the sound became a sense of peace 
within her. . . . When she extinguished her cigarette, she knew that she 

needed another one, but thought that she would give herself a minute, just a 
few minutes, before she would light it. . . . 

She had fallen asleep and she awakened with a jolt, knowing that something 
was wrong, before she knew what it was: the wheels had stopped. The car stood 
soundless and dim in the blue glow of the night lamps. She glanced at her 
watch: there was no reason for stopping. She looked out the window: the train 
stood still in the middle of empty fields. 

She heard someone moving in a seat across the aisle, and asked, "How long 
have we been standing?" 

A man's voice answered indifferently, "About an hour." The man looked 
after her, sleepily astonished, because she leaped to her feet and rushed to 
the door. There was a cold wind outside, and an empty stretch of land under 
an empty sky. She heard weeds rustling in the darkness. Far ahead, she saw 
the figures of men standing by the engine— and above them, hanging detached in 
the sky, the red light of a signal. 

She walked rapidly toward them, past the motionless line of wheels. No one 
paid attention to her when she approached. The train crew and a few 
passengers stood clustered under the red light. They had stopped talking, 
they seemed to be waiting in placid indifference. 

"What's the matter?" she asked. 

The engineer turned, astonished. Her question had sounded like an order, 
not like the amateur curiosity of a passenger. She stood, hands in pockets, 
coat collar raised, the wind beating her hair in strands across her face. 

"Red light, lady," he said, pointing up with his thumb. 

"How long has it been on?" 

"An hour . " 

"We're off the main track, aren't we?" 

"That's right." 


"I don't know." 

The conductor spoke up. "I don't think we had any business being sent off 
on a siding, that switch wasn't working right, and this thing's not working 
at all." He jerked his head up at the red light. "I don't think the signal's 
going to change. I think it's busted." 

"Then what are you doing?" 

"Waiting for it to change." 

In her pause of startled anger, the fireman chuckled. "Last week, the 
crack special of the Atlantic Southern got left on a siding for two hours- 
just somebody's mistake." 

"This is the Taggart Comet," she said. "The Comet has never been late." 

"She's the only one in the country that hasn't," said the engineer. 

"There's always a first time," said the fireman. 

"You don't know about railroads, lady," said a passenger. 

"There's not a signal system or a dispatcher in the country that's worth a 
damn . " 

She did not turn or notice him, but spoke to the engineer. 

"If you know that the signal is broken, what do you intend to do?" 

He did not like her tone of authority, and he could not understand why she 
assumed it so naturally. She looked like a young girl; only her mouth and 
eyes showed that she was a woman in her thirties. The dark gray eyes were 
direct and disturbing, as if they cut through things, throwing the 
inconsequential out of the way. The face seemed faintly familiar to him, but 
he could not recall where he had seen it. 

"Lady, I don't intend to stick my neck out," he said. 

"He means," said the fireman, "that our job's to wait for orders." 

"Your job is to run this train." 

"Not against a red light. If the light says stop, we stop." 

"A red light means danger, lady," said the passenger. 

"We're not taking any chances," said the engineer. "Whoever's responsible 
for it, he'll switch the blame to us if we move. So we're not moving till 
somebody tells us to." 

"And if nobody does?" 

"Somebody will turn up sooner or later." 

"How long do you propose to wait?" 

The engineer shrugged. "Who is John Gait?" 

"He means," said the fireman, "don't ask questions nobody can answer." 

She looked at the red light and at the rail that went off into the black, 
untouched distance. 

She said, "Proceed with caution to the next signal. If it's in order, 
proceed to the main track. Then stop at the first open office." 

"Yeah? Who says so?" 

"I do." 

"Who are you?" 

It was only the briefest pause, a moment of astonishment at a question she 
had not expected, but the engineer looked more closely at her face, and in 
time with her answer he gasped, "Good God!" 

She answered, not offensively, merely like a person who does not hear the 
question often: "Dagny Taggart." 

"Well, I'll be—" said the fireman, and then they all remained silent. She 
went on, in the same tone of unstressed authority. "Proceed to the main track 
and hold the train for me at the first open office." 

"Yes, Miss Taggart." 

"You'll have to make up time. You've got the rest of the night to do it. 
Get the Comet in on schedule." 
"Yes, Miss Taggart." 

She was turning to go, when the engineer asked, "If there's any trouble, 
are you taking the responsibility for it, Miss Taggart?" 
"I am." 

The conductor followed her as she walked back to her car. He was saying, 
bewildered, "But . . . just a seat in a day coach, Miss Taggart? But how 
come? But why didn't you let us know?" 

She smiled easily. "Had no time to be formal. Had my own car attached to 
Number 22 out of Chicago, but got off at Cleveland— and Number 22 was running 
late, so I let the car go. The Comet came next and I took it. There was no 
sleeping-car space left." 

The conductor shook his head. "Your brother— he wouldn't have taken a 
coach . " 

She laughed. "No, he wouldn't have." 

The men by the engine watched her walking away. The young brakeman was 
among them. He asked, pointing after her, "Who is that?" 

"That's who runs Taggart Transcontinental," said the engineer; the respect 
in his voice was genuine. "That's the Vice-president in Charge of Operation." 

When the train jolted forward, the blast of its whistle dying over the 
fields, she sat by the window, lighting another cigarette. She thought: It's 
cracking to pieces, like this, all over the country, you can expect it 
anywhere, at any moment. But she felt no anger or anxiety; she had no time to 

This would be just one more issue, to be settled along with the others. 
She knew that the superintendent of the Ohio Division was no good and that he 
was a friend of James Taggart. She had not insisted on throwing him out long 
ago only because she had no better man to put in his place. Good men were so 
strangely hard to find. But she would have to get rid of him, she thought, 
and she would give his post to Owen Kellogg, the young engineer who was doing 
a brilliant job as one of the assistants to the manager of the Taggart 

Terminal in New York; it was Owen Kellogg who ran the Terminal. She had 
watched his work for some time; she had always looked for sparks of 
competence, like a diamond prospector in an unpromising wasteland. Kellogg 
was still too young to be made superintendent of a division; she had wanted 
to give him another year, but there was no time to wait. She would have to 
speak to him as soon as she returned. 

The strip of earth, faintly visible outside the window, was running faster 
now, blending into a gray stream. Through the dry phrases of calculations in 
her mind, she noticed that she did have time to feel something: it was the 
hard, exhilarating pleasure of action. 

-k -k -k 

With the first whistling rush of air, as the Comet plunged into the 
tunnels of the Taggart Terminal under the city of New York, Dagny Taggart sat 
up straight. She always felt it when the train went underground— this sense of 
eagerness, of hope and of secret excitement. It was as if normal existence 
were a photograph of shapeless things in badly printed colors, but this was a 
sketch done in a few sharp strokes that made things seem clean, important— and 
worth doing. 

She watched the tunnels as they flowed past: bare walls of concrete, a net 
of pipes and wires, a web of rails that went off into black holes where green 
and red lights hung as distant drops of color. There was nothing else, 
nothing to dilute it, so that one could admire naked purpose and the 
ingenuity that had achieved it. She thought of the Taggart Building standing 
above her head at this moment, growing straight to the sky, and she thought: 
These are the roots of the building, hollow roots twisting under the ground, 
feeding the city. 

When the train stopped, when she got off and heard the concrete of the 
platform under her heels, she felt light, lifted, impelled to action. 

She started off, walking fast, as if the speed of her steps could give 
form to the things she felt. It was a few moments before she realized that 
she was whistling a piece of music— and that it was the theme of Halley's 
Fifth Concerto. She felt someone looking at her and turned. The young 
brakeman stood watching her tensely. 

She sat on the arm of the big chair facing James Taggart 's desk, her coat 
thrown open over a wrinkled traveling suit. Eddie Willers sat across the 
room, making notes once in a while. His title was that of Special Assistant 
to the Vice-President in Charge of Operation, and his main duty was to be her 
bodyguard against any waste of time. She asked him to be present at 
interviews of this nature, because then she never had to explain anything to 
him afterwards. James Taggart sat at his desk, his head drawn into his 
shoulders . 

"The Rio Norte Line is a pile of junk from one end to the other," she 
said. "It's much worse than I thought. But we're going to save it." 
"Of course," said James Taggart. 

"Some of the rail can be salvaged. Not much and not for long. We'll start 
laying new rail in the mountain sections, Colorado first. We'll get the new 
rail in two months." 

"Oh, did Orren Boyle say he'll-" 

"I've ordered the rail from Rearden Steel." 

The slight, choked sound from Eddie Willers was his suppressed desire to 
cheer . 

James Taggart did not answer at once. "Dagny, why don't you sit in the 
chair as one is supposed to?" he said at last; his voice was petulant. 
"Nobody holds business conferences this way." 
"I do." 

She waited. He asked, his eyes avoiding hers, "Did you say that you have 
ordered the rail from Rearden?" 

"Yesterday evening. I phoned him from Cleveland." 

"But the Board hasn't authorized it. I haven't authorized it. You haven't 
consulted me . " 

She reached over, picked up the receiver of a telephone on his desk and 
handed it to him. 

"Call Rearden and cancel it, " she said. 

James Taggart moved back in his chair. "I haven't said that," he answered 
angrily. "I haven't said that at all." 
"Then it stands?" 
"I haven't said that, either." 

She turned. "Eddie, have them draw up the contract with Rearden Steel. Jim 
will sign it." She took a crumpled piece of notepaper from her pocket and 
tossed it to Eddie. "There's the figures and terms." 

Taggart said, "But the Board hasn't—" 

"The Board hasn't anything to do with it. They authorized you to buy the 
rail thirteen months ago. Where you buy it is up to you." 

"I don't think it's proper to make such a decision without giving the 
Board a chance to express an opinion. And I don't see why I should be made to 
take the responsibility." 

"I am taking it." 

"What about the expenditure which—" 

"Rearden is charging less than Orren Boyle's Associated Steel." 
"Yes, and what about Orren Boyle?" 

"I've cancelled the contract. We had the right to cancel it six months 
ago . " 

"When did you do that?" 
"Yesterday . " 

"But he hasn't called to have me confirm it." 
"He won't." 

Taggart sat looking down at his desk. She wondered why he resented the 
necessity of dealing with Rearden, and why his resentment had such an odd, 
evasive quality. Rearden Steel had been the chief supplier of Taggart 
Transcontinental for ten years, ever since the first Rearden furnace was 
fired, in the days when their father was president of the railroad. For ten 
years, most of their rail had come from Rearden Steel. There were not many 
firms in the country who delivered what was ordered, when and as ordered. 
Rearden Steel was one of them. 

If she were insane, thought Dagny, she would conclude that her brother 
hated to deal with Rearden because Rearden did his job with superlative 
efficiency; but she would not conclude it, because she thought that such a 
feeling was not within the humanly possible. 

"It isn't fair," said James Taggart. 

"What isn't?" 

"That we always give all our business to Rearden. It seems to me we should 
give somebody else a chance, too. Rearden doesn't need us; he's plenty big 
enough. We ought to help the smaller fellows to develop. Otherwise, we're 
just encouraging a monopoly." 

"Don't talk tripe, Jim," 

"Why do we always have to get things from Rearden?" 
"Because we always get them." 
"I don't like Henry Rearden." 

"I do. But what does that matter, one way or the other? We need rails and 
he's the only one who can give them to us." 

"The human element is very important. You have no sense of the human 
element at all." 

"We're talking about saving a railroad, Jim." 

"Yes, of course, of course, but still, you haven't any sense of the human 
element . " 

"No. I haven't." 

"If we give Rearden such a large order for steel rails—" 
"They're not going to be steel. They're Rearden Metal." 

She had always avoided personal reactions, but she was forced to break her 
rule when she saw the expression on Taggart's face. She burst out laughing. 

Rearden Metal was a new alloy, produced by Rearden after ten years of 
experiments. He had placed it on the market recently. He had received no 
orders and had found no customers. 

Taggart could not understand the transition from the laughter to the 
sudden tone of Dagny's voice; the voice was cold and harsh: "Drop it, Jim. I 
know everything you're going to say. Nobody's ever used it before. Nobody 
approves of Rearden Metal. Nobody's interested in it. Nobody wants it. Still, 
our rails are going to be made of Rearden Metal." 

"But ..." said Taggart, "but . . . but nobody's ever used it before!" 

He observed, with satisfaction, that she was silenced by anger. He liked 
to observe emotions; they were like red lanterns strung along the dark 
unknown of another's personality, marking vulnerable points. But how one 
could feel a personal emotion about a metal alloy, and what such an emotion 
indicated, was incomprehensible to him; so he could make no use of his 
discovery . 

"The consensus of the best metallurgical authorities," he said, "seems to 
be highly skeptical about Rearden Metal, contending—" 
"Drop it, Jim. " 

"Well, whose opinion did you take?" 
"I don't ask for opinions." 
"What do you go by?" 
"Judgment . " 

"Well, whose judgment did you take?" 
"Mine. " 

"But whom did you consult about it?" 
"Nobody. " 

"Then what on earth do you know about Rearden Metal?" 
"That it's the greatest thing ever put on the market." 

"Because it's tougher than steel, cheaper than steel and will outlast any 
hunk of metal in existence." 
"But who says so?" 

"Jim, I studied engineering in college. When I see things, I see them." 
"What did you see?" 

"Rearden 's formula and the tests he showed me." 

"Well, if it were any good, somebody would have used it, and nobody has." 
He saw the flash of anger, and went on nervously: "How can you know it's 
good? How can you be sure? How can you decide?" 

"Somebody decides such things, Jim. Who?" 

"Well, I don't see why we have to be the first ones. I don't see it at 

"Do you want to save the Rio Norte Line or not?" He did not answer, "If 
the road could afford it, I would scrap every piece of rail over the whole 
system and replace it with Rearden Metal. All of it needs replacing. None of 
it will last much longer. But we can't afford it. We have to get out of a bad 
hole, first. Do you want us to pull through or not?" 

"We're still the best railroad in the country. The others are doing much 
worse . " 

"Then do you want us to remain in the hole?" 

"I haven't said that! Why do you always oversimplify things that way? And 
if you're worried about money, I don't see why you want to waste it on the 
Rio Norte Line, when the Phoenix-Durango has robbed us of all our business 
down there. Why spend money when we have no protection against a competitor 
who'll destroy our investment?" 

"Because the Phoenix-Durango is an excellent railroad, but I intend to 
make the Rio Norte Line better than that. Because I'm going to beat the 
Phoenix-Durango, if necessary— only it won't be necessary, because there will 
be room for two or three railroads to make fortunes in Colorado. Because I'd 
mortgage the system to build a branch to any district around Ellis Wyatt." 

"I'm sick of hearing about Ellis Wyatt." 

He did not like the way her eyes moved to look at him and remained still, 
looking, for a moment. 

"I don't see any need for immediate action," he said; he sounded offended. 
"Just what do you consider so alarming in the present situation of Taggart 
Transcontinental ? " 

"The consequences of your policies, Jim." 

"Which policies?" 

"That thirteen months' experiment with Associated Steel, for one. Your 
Mexican catastrophe, for another." 

"The Board approved the Associated Steel contract," he said hastily. 

"The Board voted to build the San Sebastian Line. Besides, I don't see why 
you call it a catastrophe." 

"Because the Mexican government is going to nationalize your line any day 
now . " 

"That's a lie!" His voice was almost a scream. "That's nothing but vicious 
rumors! I have it on very good inside authority that—" 

"Don't show that you're scared, Jim," she said contemptuously. He did not 
answer. "It's no use getting panicky about it now," she said. "All we can do 
is try to cushion the blow. It's going to be a bad blow. Forty million 
dollars is a loss from which we won't recover easily. But Taggart 
transcontinental has withstood many bad shocks in the past. I'll see to it 
that it withstands this one." 

"I refuse to consider, I absolutely refuse to consider the possibility of 
the San Sebastian Line being nationalized!" 

"All right. Don't consider it." 

She remained silent. He said defensively, "I don't see why you're so eager 
to give a chance to Ellis Wyatt, yet you think it's wrong to take part in 
developing an underprivileged country that never had a chance." 

"Ellis Wyatt is not asking anybody to give him a chance. And I'm not in 
business to give chances. I'm running a railroad." 

"That's an extremely narrow view, it seems to me. I don't see why we 
should want to help one man instead of a whole nation." 

"I'm not interested in. helping anybody. I want to make money." 

"That's an impractical attitude. Selfish greed for profit is a thing of 
the past. It has been generally conceded that the interests of society as a 
whole must always be placed first in any business undertaking which—" 

"How long do you intend to talk in order to evade the issue, Jim?" 

"What issue?" 

"The order for Rearden Metal." 

He did not answer. He sat studying her silently. Her slender body, about 
to slump from exhaustion, was held erect by the straight line of the 
shoulders, and the shoulders were held by a conscious effort of will. Few 
people liked her face: the face was too cold, the eyes too intense; nothing 
could ever lend her the charm of a soft focus. The beautiful legs, slanting 
down from the chair's arm in the center of his vision, annoyed him; they 
spoiled the rest of his estimate. 

She remained silent; he was forced to ask, "Did you decide to order it 
just like that, on the spur of the moment, over a telephone?" 

"I decided it six months ago. I was waiting for Hank Rearden to get ready 
to go into production." 

"Don't call him Hank Rearden. It's vulgar." 

"That's what everybody calls him. Don't change the subject." 
"Why did you have to telephone him last night?" 
"Couldn't reach him sooner." 

"Why didn't you wait until you got back to New York and—" 
"Because I had seen the Rio Norte Line." 

"Well, I need time to consider it, to place the matter before the Board, 
to consult the best—" 
"There is no time." 

"You haven't given me a chance to form an opinion." 

"I don't give a damn about your opinion. I am not going to argue with you, 
with your Board or with your professors. You have a choice to make and you're 
going to make it now. Just say yes or no." 

"That's a preposterous, high-handed, arbitrary way of — " 

"Yes or no?" 

"That's the trouble with you. You always make it 'Yes' or 'No.' Things are 
never absolute like that. Nothing is absolute." 

"Metal rails are. Whether we get them or not, is." 
She waited. He did not answer. "Well?" she asked. 
"Are you taking the responsibility for it?" 
"I am." 

"Go ahead," he said, and added, "but at your own risk. I won't cancel it, 
but I won't commit myself as to what I'll say to the Board." 
"Say anything you wish." 

She rose to go. He leaned forward across the desk, reluctant to end the 
interview and to end it so decisively. 

"You realize, of course, that a lengthy procedure will be necessary to put 
this through," he said; the words sounded almost hopeful. "It isn't as simple 
as that." 

"Oh sure," she said. "I'll send you a detailed report, which Eddie will 
prepare and which you won't read. Eddie will help you put it through the 
works. I'm going to Philadelphia tonight to see Rearden. He and I have a lot 
of work to do." She added, "It's as simple as that, Jim." 

She had turned to go, when he spoke again— and what he said seemed 
bewilderingly irrelevant. "That's all right for you, because you're lucky. 
Others can't do it." 

"Do what?" 

"Other people are human. They're sensitive. They can't devote their whole 
life to metals and engines. You're lucky— you've never had any feelings. 
You've never felt anything at all." 

As she looked at him, her dark gray eyes went slowly from astonishment to 
stillness, then to a strange expression that resembled a look of weariness, 
except that it seemed to reflect much more than the endurance of this one 
moment . 

"No, Jim," she said quietly, "I guess I've never felt anything at all." 
Eddie Willers followed her to her office. Whenever she returned, he felt as 
if the world became clear, simple, easy to face— and he forgot his moments of 
shapeless apprehension. He was the only person who found it completely 
natural that she should be the Operating Vice-President of a great railroad, 
even though she was a woman. She had told him, when he was ten years old, 
that she would run the railroad some day. It did not astonish him now, just 
as it had not astonished him that day in a clearing of the woods. 

When they entered her office, when he saw her sit down at the desk and 
glance at the memos he had left for her— he felt as he did in his car when the 
motor caught on and the wheels could move forward. 

He was about to leave her office, when he remembered a matter he had not 
reported. "Owen Kellogg of the Terminal Division has asked me for an 
appointment to see you," he said. 

She looked up, astonished. "That's funny. I was going to send for him. 
Have him come up. I want to see him. . . . Eddie," she added suddenly, 
"before I start, tell them to get me Ayers of the Ayers Music Publishing 
Company on the phone . " 

"The Music Publishing Company?" he repeated incredulously. 

"Yes. There's something I want to ask him." 

When the voice of Mr. Ayers, courteously eager, inquired of what service 
he could be to her, she asked, "Can you tell me whether Richard Halley has 
written a new piano concerto, the Fifth?" 

"A fifth concerto, Miss Taggart? Why, no, of course he hasn't." 

"Are you sure?" 

"Quite sure, Miss Taggart. He has not written anything for eight years." 
"Is he still alive?" 

"Why, yes— that is, I can't say for certain, he has dropped out of public 
life entirely— but I'm sure we would have heard of it if he had died." 
"If he wrote anything, would you know about it?" 

"Of course. We would be the first to know. We publish all of his work. But 
he has stopped writing." 
"I see. Thank you." 

When Owen Kellogg entered her office, she looked at him with satisfaction. 
She was glad to see that she had been right in her vague recollection of his 
appearance— his face had the same quality as that of the young brakeman on the 
train, the face of the kind of man with whom she could deal. 

"Sit down, Mr. Kellogg," she said, but he remained standing in front of 
her desk. 

"You had asked me once to let you know if I ever decided to change my 
employment, Miss Taggart," he said. "So I came to tell you that I am 
quitting . " 

She had expected anything but that; it took her a moment before she asked 
quietly, "Why?" 

"For a personal reason." 
"Were you dissatisfied here?" 
"No . " 

"Have you received a better offer?" 
"No. " 

"What railroad are you going to?" 

"I'm not going to any railroad, Miss Taggart." 

"Then what job are you taking?" 

"I have not decided that yet." 

She studied him, feeling slightly uneasy. There was no hostility in his 
face; he looked straight at her, he answered simply, directly; he spoke like 
one who has nothing to hide, or to show; the face was polite and empty. 

"Then why should you wish to quit?" 

"It's a personal matter." 

"Are you ill? Is it a question of your health?" 
"No . " 

"Are you leaving the city?" 
"No . " 

"Have you inherited money that permits you to retire?" 
"No. " 

"Do you intend to continue working for a living?" 


"But you do not wish to work for Taggart Transcontinental?" 
"No . " 

"In that case, something must have happened here to cause your decision. 

"Nothing, Miss Taggart." 

"I wish you'd tell me. I have a reason for wanting to know." 
"Would you take my word for it, Miss Taggart?" 
"Yes . " 

"No person, matter or event connected with my job here had any bearing 
upon my decision." 

"You have no specific complaint against Taggart Transcontinental?" 
"None. " 

"Then I think you might reconsider when you hear what I have to offer 
you . " 

"I'm sorry, Miss Taggart. I can't." 
"May I tell you what I have in mind?" 
"Yes, if you wish." 

"Would you take my word for it that I decided to offer you the post I'm 
going to offer, before you asked to see me? I want you to know that." 
"I will always take your word, Miss Taggart." 

"It's the post of Superintendent of the Ohio Division. It's yours, if you 
want it." 

His face showed no reaction, as if the words had no more significance for 
him than for a savage who had never heard of railroads. 
"I don't want it, Miss Taggart," he answered. 

After a moment, she said, her voice tight, "Write your own ticket, 
Kellogg. Name your price, I want you to stay. I can match anything any other 
railroad offers you." 

"I am not going to work for any other railroad." 

"I thought you loved your work." 

This was the first sign of emotion in him, just a slight widening of his 
eyes and an oddly quiet emphasis in his voice when he answered, "I do." 

"Then tell me what it is that I should say in order to hold you!" It had 
been involuntary and so obviously frank that he looked at her as if it had 
reached him. 

"Perhaps I am being unfair by coming here to tell you that I'm quitting, 
Miss Taggart. I know that you asked me to tell you because you wanted to have 
a chance to make me a counter-offer. So if I came, it looks as if I'm open to 
a deal. But I'm not. I came only because I ... I wanted to keep my word to 
you . " 

That one break in his voice was like a sudden flash that told her how much 
her interest and her request had meant to him; and that his decision had not 
been an easy one to make. 

"Kellogg, is there nothing I can offer you?" she asked. 

"Nothing, Miss Taggart. Nothing on earth." 

He turned to go. For the first time in her life, she felt helpless and 
beaten . 

"Why?" she asked, not addressing him. 

He stopped. He shrugged and smiled— he was alive for a moment and it was 
the strangest smile she had ever seen: it held secret amusement, and 
heartbreak, and an infinite bitterness. He answered: "Who is John Gait?" 


It began with a few lights. As a train of the Taggart line rolled toward 
Philadelphia, a few brilliant, scattered lights appeared in the darkness; 
they seemed purposeless in the empty plain, yet too powerful to have no 
purpose. The passengers watched them idly, without interest. 

The black shape of a structure came next, barely visible against the sky, 
then a big building, close to the tracks; the building was dark, and the 
reflections of the train lights streaked across the solid glass of its walls. 

An oncoming freight train hid the view, filling the windows with a rushing 
smear of noise. In a sudden break above the fiat cars, the passengers saw 
distant structures under a faint, reddish glow in the sky; the glow moved in 
irregular spasms, as if the structures were breathing. 

When the freight train vanished, they saw angular buildings wrapped in 
coils of steam. The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through 
the coils. The steam was red as the sky. 

The thing that came next did not look like a building, but like a shell of 
checkered glass enclosing girders, cranes and trusses in a solid, blinding, 
orange spread of flame. 

The passengers could not grasp the complexity of what seemed to be a city 
stretched for miles, active without sign of human presence. They saw towers 
that looked like contorted skyscrapers, bridges hanging in mid-air, and 
sudden wounds spurting fire from out of solid walls. They saw a line of 
glowing cylinders moving through the night; the cylinders were red-hot metal. 

An office building appeared, close to the tracks. The big neon sign on its 
roof lighted the interiors of the coaches as they went by. It said: REARDEN 

A passenger, who was a professor of economics, remarked to his companion: 
"Of what importance is an individual in the titanic collective achievements 
of our industrial age?" Another, who was a journalist, made a note for future 
use in his column: "Hank Rearden is the kind of man who sticks his name on 
everything he touches. You may, from this, form your own opinion about the 
character of Hank Rearden." 

The train was speeding on into the darkness when a red gasp shot to the 
sky from behind a long structure. The passengers paid no attention; one more 
heat of steel being poured was not an event they had been taught to notice. 

It was the first heat for the first order of Rearden Metal. 

To the men at the tap-hole of the furnace inside the mills, the first 
break of the liquid metal into the open came as a shocking sensation of 
morning. The narrow streak pouring through space had the pure white color of 
sunlight. Black coils of steam were boiling upward, streaked with violent 
red. Fountains of sparks shot in beating spasms, as from broken arteries. The 
air seemed torn to rags, reflecting a raging flame that was not there, red 
blotches whirling and running through space, as if not to be contained within 
a man-made structure, as if about to consume the columns, the girders, the 
bridges of cranes overhead. But the liquid metal had no aspect of violence. 
It was a long white curve with the texture of satin and the friendly radiance 
of a smile. It flowed obediently through a spout of clay, with two brittle 
borders to restrain it. It fell through twenty feet of space, down into a 
ladle that held two hundred tons. A flow of stars hung above the stream, 
leaping out of its placid smoothness, looking delicate as lace and innocent 
as children's sparklers. 

Only at a closer glance could one notice that the white satin was boiling. 
Splashes flew out at times and fell to the ground below: they were metal and, 
cooling while hitting the soil, they burst into flame. 

Two hundred tons of a metal which was to be harder than steel, running 
liquid at a temperature of four thousand degrees, had the power to annihilate 
every wall of the structure and every one of the men who worked by the 
stream. But every inch of its course, every pound of its pressure and the 
content of every molecule within it, were controlled and made by a conscious 
intention that had worked upon it for ten years. 

Swinging through the darkness of the shed, the red glare kept stashing the 
face of a man who stood in a distant corner; he stood leaning against a 
column, watching. The glare cut a moment's wedge across his eyes, which had 
the color and quality of pale blue ice— then across the black web of the metal 
column and the ash-blond strands of his hair— then across the belt of his 
trenchcoat and the pockets where he held his hands. His body was tall and 
gaunt; he had always been too tall for those around him. His face was cut by 
prominent cheekbones and by a few sharp lines; they were not the lines of 
age, he had always had them: this had made him look old at twenty, and young 
now, at forty-five. 

Ever since he could remember, he had been told that his face was ugly, 
because it was unyielding, and cruel, because it was expressionless. It 
remained expressionless now, as he looked at the metal. He was Hank Rearden. 

The metal came rising to the top of the ladle and went running over with 
arrogant prodigality. Then the blinding white trickles turned to glowing 
brown, and in one more instant they were black icicles of metal, starting to 
crumble off. The slag was crusting in thick, brown ridges that looked like 
the crust of the earth. As the crust grew thicker, a few craters broke open, 
with the white liquid still boiling within. 

A man came riding through the air, in the cab of a crane overhead. He 
pulled a lever by the casual movement of one hand: steel hooks came down on a 
chain, seized the handles of the ladle, lifted it smoothly like a bucket of 
milk— and two hundred tons of metal went sailing through space toward a row of 
molds waiting to be filled. 

Hank Rearden leaned back, closing his eyes. He felt the column trembling 
with the rumble of the crane. The job was done, he thought. 

A worker saw him and grinned in understanding, like a fellow accomplice in 
a great celebration, who knew why that tall, blond figure had to be present 
here tonight. Rearden smiled in answer: it was the only salute he had 
received. Then he started back for his office, once again a figure with an 
expressionless face. 

It was late when Hank Rearden left his office that night to walk from his 
mills to his house. It was a walk of some miles through empty country, but he 
had felt like doing it, without conscious reason. 

He walked, keeping one hand in his pocket, his fingers closed about a 
bracelet. It was made of Rearden Metal, in the shape of a chain. His fingers 
moved, feeling its texture once in a while. It had taken ten years to make 
that bracelet. Ten years, he thought, is a long time. The road was dark, 
edged with trees. Looking up, he could see a few leaves against the stars; 
the leaves were twisted and dry, ready to fall. 

There were distant lights in the windows of houses scattered through the 
countryside; but the lights made the road seem lonelier. 

He never felt loneliness except when he was happy. He turned, once in a 
while, to look back at the red glow of the sky over the mills. He did not 
think of the ten years. What remained of them tonight was only a feeling 
which he could not name, except that it was quiet and solemn. The feeling was 
a sum, and he did not have to count again the parts that had gone to make it. 
But the parts, unrecalled, were there, within the feeling. They were the 
nights spent at scorching ovens in the research laboratory of the mills — the 
nights spent in the workshop of his home, over sheets of paper which he 
filled with formulas, then tore up in angry failure — the days when the young 

scientists of the small staff he had chosen to assist him waited for 
instructions like soldiers ready for a hopeless battle, having exhausted 
their ingenuity, still willing, but silent, with the unspoken sentence 
hanging in the air: "Mr. Rearden, it can't be done— "—the meals, interrupted 
and abandoned at the sudden flash of a new thought, a thought to be pursued 
at once, to be tried, to be tested, to be worked on for months, and to be 
discarded as another failure — the moments snatched from conferences, from 
contracts, from theduties of running the best steel mills in the country, 
snatched almostguiltily, as for a secret love — the one thought held immovably 
across a span of ten years, undereverything he did and everything he saw, the 
thought held in his mindwhen he looked at the buildings of a city, at the 
track of a railroad, atthe light in the windows of a distant farmhouse, at 
the knife in the handsof a beautiful woman cutting a piece of fruit at a 
banquet, the thought ofa metal alloy that would do more than steel had ever 
done, a metal thatwould be to steel what steel had been to iron — the acts of 
self-racking when he discarded a hope or a sample, not permitting himself to 
know that he was tired, not giving himself timeto feel, driving himself 
through the wringing torture of: "not good enough . . . still not good enough 
. . . " and going on with no motor save the conviction that it could be done— 
—then the day when it was done and its result was called Rearden Metal— — 
these were the things that had come to white heat, had melted and fused 
within him, and their alloy was a strange, quiet feeling that made him smile 
at the countryside in the darkness and wonder why happiness could hurt. 

After a while, he realized that he was thinking of his past, as if certain 
days of it were spread before him, demanding to be seen again. He did not 
want to look at them; he despised memories as a pointless indulgence. But 
then he understood that he thought of them tonight in honor of that piece of 
metal in his pocket. Then he permitted himself to look. 

He saw the day when he stood on a rocky ledge and felt a thread of sweat 
running from his temple down his neck. He was fourteen years old and it was 
his first day of work in the iron mines of Minnesota. He was trying to learn 
to breathe against the scalding pain in his chest. He stood, cursing himself, 
because he had made up his mind that he would not be tired. After a while, he 
went back to his task; he decided that pain was not a valid reason for 
stopping, He saw the day when he stood at the window of his office and looked 
at the mines; he owned them as of that morning. He was thirty years old. What 
had gone on in the years between did not matter, just as pain had not 
mattered. He had worked in mines, in foundries, in the steel mills of the 
north, moving toward the purpose he had chosen. All he remembered of those 
jobs was that the men around him had never seemed to know what to do, while 
he had always known. He remembered wondering why so many iron mines were 
closing, just as these had been about to close until he took them over. He 
looked at the shelves of rock in the distance. Workers were putting up a new 
sign above a gate at the end of a road: Rearden Ore. 

He saw an evening when he sat slumped across his desk in that office. 

It was late and his staff had left; so he could lie there alone, 
unwitnessed. He was tired. It was as if he had run a race against his own 
body, and all the exhaustion of years, which he had refused to acknowledge, 
had caught him at once and flattened him against the desk top. He felt 
nothing, except the desire not to move. He did not have the strength to feel- 
not even to suffer. He had burned everything there was to burn within him; he 
had scattered so many sparks to start so many things— and he wondered whether 
someone could give him now the spark he needed, now when he felt unable ever 
to rise again. He asked himself who had started him and kept him going. Then 
he raised his head. 

Slowly, with the greatest effort of his life, he made his body rise until 
he was able to sit upright with only one hand pressed to the desk and a 
trembling arm to support him. 

He never asked that question again. He saw the day when he stood on a hill 
and looked at a grimy wasteland of structures that had been a steel plant. It 
was closed and given up. He had bought it the night before. There was a 
strong wind and a gray light squeezed from among the clouds. In that light, 
he saw the brown-red of rust, like dead blood, on the steel of the giant 
cranes— and bright, green, living weeds, like gorged cannibals, growing over 
piles of broken glass at the foot of walls made of empty frames. At a gate in 
the distance, he saw the black silhouettes of men. They were the unemployed 
from the rotting hovels of what had once been a prosperous town. 

They stood silently, looking at the glittering car he had left at the gate 
of the mills; they wondered whether the man on the hill was the Hank Rearden 
that people were talking about, and whether it was true that the mills were 
to be reopened. "The historical cycle of steel-making in Pennsylvania is 
obviously running down, " a newspaper had said, "and experts agree that Henry 
Rearden 's venture into steel is hopeless. You may soon witness the 
sensational end of the sensational Henry Rearden." That was ten years ago. 
Tonight, the cold wind on his face felt like the wind of that day. He turned 
to look back. The red glow of the mills breathed in the sky, a sight as life- 
giving as a sunrise. These had been his stops, the stations which an express 
had reached and passed. He remembered nothing distinct of the years between 
them; the years were blurred, like a streak of speed. 

Whatever it was, he thought, whatever the strain and the agony, they were 
worth it, because they had made him reach this day— this day when the first 
heat of the first order of Rearden Metal had been poured, to become rails for 
Taggart Transcontinental. 

He touched the bracelet in his pocket. He had had it made from that first 
poured metal. It was for his wife. As he touched it, he realized suddenly 
that he had thought of an abstraction called "his wife"— not of the woman to 
whom he was married. 

He felt a stab of regret, wishing he had not made the bracelet, then a 
wave of self-reproach for the regret. He shook his head. This was not the 
time for his old doubts. He felt that he could forgive anything to anyone, 
because happiness was the greatest agent of purification. He felt certain 
that every living being wished him well tonight. He wanted to meet someone, 
to face the first stranger, to stand disarmed and open, and to say, "Look at 
me." People, he thought, were as hungry for a sight of joy as he had always 
been— for a moment's relief from that gray load of suffering which seemed so 
inexplicable and unnecessary. He had never been able to understand why men 
should be unhappy. 

The dark road had risen imperceptibly to the top of a hill. He stopped and 
turned. The red glow was a narrow strip, far to the west. Above it, small at 
a distance of miles, the words of a neon sign stood written on the blackness 
of the sky: REARDEN STEEL. He stood straight, as if before a bench of 
judgment. He thought that in the darkness of this night other signs were 
lighted over the country: Rearden Ore— Rearden Coal— Rearden Limestone. He 
thought of the days behind him. He wished it were possible to light a neon 
sign above them, saying: Rearden Life. 

He turned sharply and walked on. As the road came closer to his house, he 
noticed that his steps were slowing down and that something was ebbing away 
from his mood. He felt a dim reluctance to enter his home, which he did not 
want to feel. No, he thought, not tonight; they'll understand it, tonight. 
But he did not know, he had never defined, what it was that he wanted them to 

He saw lights in the windows of the living room, when he approached his 
house. The house stood on a hill, rising before him like a big white bulk; it 
looked naked, with a few semi-colonial pillars for reluctant ornament; it had 
the cheerless look of a nudity not worth revealing. 

He was not certain whether his wife noticed him when he entered the living 
room. She sat by the fireplace, talking, the curve of her arm floating in 
graceful emphasis of her words. He heard a small break in her voice, and 
thought that she had seen him, but she did not look up and her sentence went 
on smoothly; he could not be certain, "—but it's just that a man of culture 
is bored with the alleged wonders of purely material ingenuity, " she was 
saying. "He simply refuses to get excited about plumbing." 

Then she turned her head, looked at Rearden in the shadows across the long 
room, and her arms spread gracefully, like two swan necks by her sides. 

"Why, darling," she said in a bright tone of amusement, "isn't it too 
early to come home? Wasn't there some slag to sweep or tuyeres to polish?" 

They all turned to him— his mother, his brother Philip and Paul Larkin, 
their old friend. 

"I'm sorry," he answered. "I know I'm late." 

"Don't say you're sorry," said his mother. "You could have telephoned." He 
looked at her, trying vaguely to remember something. 
"You promised to be here for dinner tonight." 

"Oh, that's right, I did. I'm sorry. But today at the mills, we poured—" 
He stopped; he did not know what made him unable to utter the one thing he 
had come home to say; he added only, "It's just that I . . . forgot." 

"That's what Mother means," said Philip. 

"Oh, let him get his bearings, he's not quite here yet, he's still at the 
mills," his wife said gaily. "Do take your coat off, Henry." 

Paul Larkin was looking at him with the devoted eyes of an inhibited dog. 
"Hello, Paul," said Rearden. "When did you get in?" 

"Oh, I just hopped down on the five thirty-five from New York." Larkin was 
smiling in gratitude for the attention. 


"Who hasn't got trouble these days?" Larkin 's smile became resigned, to 
indicate that the remark was merely philosophical. "But no, no special 
trouble this time. I just thought I'd drop in to see you." 

His wife laughed. "You've disappointed him, Paul." She turned to Rearden. 
"Is it an inferiority complex or a superiority one, Henry? Do you believe 
that nobody can want to see you just for your own sake, or do you believe 
that nobody can get along without your help?" 

He wanted to utter an angry denial, but she was smiling at him as if this 
were merely a conversational joke, and he had no capacity for the sort of 
conversations which were not supposed to be meant, so he did not answer. He 
stood looking at her, wondering about the things he had never been able to 
understand . 

Lillian Rearden was generally regarded as a beautiful woman. She had a 
tall, graceful body, the kind that looked well in high-waisted gowns of the 
Empire style, which she made it a practice to wear. Her exquisite profile 
belonged to a cameo of the same period: its pure, proud lines and the 
lustrous, light brown waves of her hair, worn with classical simplicity, 
suggested an austere, imperial beauty. But when she turned full-face, people 
experienced a small shock of disappointment. 

Her face was not beautiful. The eyes were the flaw: they were vaguely 
pale, neither quite gray nor brown, lifelessly empty of expression. Rearden 
had always wondered, since she seemed amused so often, why there was no 
gaiety in her face. 

"We have met before, dear, " she said, in answer to his silent scrutiny, 
"though you don't seem to be sure of it." 

"Have you had any dinner, Henry?" his mother asked; there was a 
reproachful impatience in her voice, as if his hunger were a personal insult 
to her. 

"Yes ... No ... I wasn't hungry." 

"I'd better ring to have them—" 

"No, Mother, not now, it doesn't matter." 

"That's the trouble I've always had with you." She was not looking at him, 
but reciting words into space. "It's no use trying to do things for you, you 
don't appreciate it. I could never make you eat properly." 

"Henry, you work too hard," said Philip. "It's not good for you." 

Rearden laughed. "I like it." 

"That's what you tell yourself. It's a form of neurosis, you know. When a 
man drowns himself in work, it's because he's trying to escape from 
something. You ought to have a hobby." 

"Oh, Phil, for Christ's sake!" he said, and regretted the irritation in 
his voice. 

Philip had always been in precarious health, though doctors had found no 
specific defect in his loose, gangling body. He was thirty-eight, but his 
chronic weariness made people think at times that he was older than his 
brother . 

"You ought to learn to have some fun," said Philip. "Otherwise, you'll 
become dull and narrow. Single-tracked, you know. You ought to get out of 
your little private shell and take a look at the world. You don't want to 
miss life, the way you're doing." 

Fighting anger, Rearden told himself that this was Philip's form of 
solicitude. He told himself that it would be unjust to feel resentment: they 
were all trying to show their concern for him— and he wished these were not 
the things they had chosen for concern. 

"I had a pretty good time today, Phil," he answered, smiling— and wondered 
why Philip did not ask him what it was. 

He wished one of them would ask him. He was finding it hard to 
concentrate. The sight of the running metal was still burned into his mind, 
filling his consciousness, leaving no room for anything else. 

"You might have apologized, only I ought to know better than to expect 
it." It was his mother's voice; he turned: she was looking at him with that 
injured look which proclaims the long-bearing patience of the defenseless. 

"Mrs. Beecham was here for dinner," she said reproachfully. 


"Mrs. Beecham. My friend Mrs. Beecham." 

"I told you about her, I told you many times, but you never remember 
anything I say. Mrs. Beecham was so anxious to meet you, but she had to leave 
after dinner, she couldn't wait, Mrs. Beecham is a very busy person. She 
wanted so much to tell you about the wonderful work we're doing in our parish 
school, and about the classes in metal craftsmanship, and about the beautiful 
wrought-iron doorknobs that the little slum children are making all by 
themselves . " 

It took the whole of his sense of consideration to force himself to answer 
evenly, "I'm sorry if I disappointed you, Mother." 

"You're not sorry. You could've been here if you'd made the effort. But 
when did you ever make an effort for anybody but yourself? You're not 
interested in any of us or in anything we do. You think that if you pay the 
bills, that's enough, don't you? Money! That's all you know. And all you give 
us is money. Have you ever given us any time?" 

If this meant that she missed him, he thought, then it meant affection, 
and if it meant affection, then he was unjust to experience a heavy, murky 

feeling which kept him silent lest his voice betray that the feeling was 
disgust . 

"You don't care," her voice went half-spitting, half-begging on. "Lillian 
needed you today for a very important problem, but I told her it was no use 
waiting to discuss it with you." 

"Oh, Mother, it's not important!" said Lillian. "Not to Henry." 

He turned to her. He stood in the middle of the room, with his trenchcoat 
still on, as if he were trapped in an unreality that would not become real to 

"It's not important at all," said Lillian gaily; he could not tell whether 
her voice was apologetic or boastful. "It's not business. It's purely non- 
commercial . " 

"What is it?" 

"Just a party I'm planning to give." 
"A party?" 

"Oh, don't look frightened, it's not for tomorrow night. I know that 
you're so very busy, but it's for three months from now and I want it to be a 
very big, very special affair, so would you promise me to be here that night 
and not in Minnesota or Colorado or California?" 

She was looking at him in an odd manner, speaking too lightly and too 
purposefully at once, her smile overstressing an air of innocence and 
suggesting something like a hidden trump card. 

"Three months from now?" he said. "But you know that I can't tell what 
urgent business might come up to call me out of town." 

"Oh, I know! But couldn't I make a formal appointment with you, way in 
advance, just like any railroad executive, automobile manufacturer or junk— I 
mean, scrap— dealer ? They say you never miss an appointment. Of course, I'd 
let you pick the date to suit your convenience." She was looking up at him, 
her glance acquiring some special quality of feminine appeal by being sent 
from under her lowered forehead up toward his full height; she asked, a 
little too casually and too cautiously, "The date I had in mind was December 
tenth, but would you prefer the ninth or the eleventh?" 

"It makes no difference to me." 

She said gently, "December tenth is our wedding anniversary, Henry." 

They were all watching his face; if they expected a look of guilt, what 
they saw, instead, was a faint smile of amusement. She could not have 
intended this as a trap, he thought, because he could escape it so easily, by 
refusing to accept any blame for his f orgetf ulness and by leaving her 
spurned; she knew that his feeling for her was her only weapon. Her motive, 
he thought, was a proudly indirect attempt to test his feeling and to confess 
her own. A party was not his form of celebration, but it was hers. It meant 
nothing in his terms; in hers, it meant the best tribute she could offer to 
him and to their marriage. He had to respect her intention, he thought, even 
if he did not share her standards, even if he did not know whether he still 
cared for any tribute from her. He had to let her win, he thought, because 
she had thrown herself upon his mercy. He smiled, an open, unresentful smile 
in acknowledgment of her victory. "All right, Lillian," he said quietly, "I 
promise to be here on the night of December tenth." 

"Thank you, dear." Her smile had a closed, mysterious quality; he wondered 
why he had a moment's impression that his attitude had disappointed them all. 

If she trusted him, he thought, if her feeling for him was still alive, 
then he would match her trust. He had to say it; words were a lens to focus 
one's mind, and he could not use words for anything else tonight. "I'm sorry 
I'm late, Lillian, but today at the mills we poured the first heat of Rearden 
Metal . " 

There was a moment of silence. Then Philip said, "Well, that's nice." 
The others said nothing. 

He put his hand in his pocket. When he touched it, the reality of the 
bracelet swept out everything else; he felt as he had felt when the liquid 
metal had poured through space before him. 

"I brought you a present, Lillian." 

He did not know that he stood straight and that the gesture of his arm was 
that of a returning crusader offering his trophy to his love, when he dropped 
a small chain of metal into her lap. 

Lillian Rearden picked it up, hooked on the tips of two straight fingers, 
and raised it to the light. The links were heavy, crudely made, the shining 
metal had an odd tinge, it was greenish-blue. 

"What's that?" she asked. 

"The first thing made from the first heat of the first order of Rearden 
Metal . " 

"You mean," she said, "it's fully as valuable as a piece of railroad 

He looked at her blankly. 

She jingled the bracelet, making it sparkle under the light. "Henry, it's 
perfectly wonderful! What originality! I shall be the sensation of New York, 
wearing jewelry made of the same stuff as bridge girders, truck motors, 
kitchen stoves, typewriters, and— what was it you were saying about it the 
other day, darling?— soup kettles?" 

"God, Henry, but you're conceited!" said Philip. 

Lillian laughed. "He's a sentimentalist. All men are. But, darling, I do 
appreciate it. It isn't the gift, it's the intention, I know." 

"The intention's plain selfishness, if you ask me," said Rearden' s mother. 
"Another man would bring a diamond bracelet, if he wanted to give his wife a 
present, because it's' her pleasure he'd think of, not his own. But Henry 
thinks that just because he's made a new kind of tin, why, it's got to be 
more precious than diamonds to everybody, just because it's he that's made 
it. That's the way he's been since he was five years old— the most conceited 
brat you ever saw— and I knew he'd grow up to be the most selfish creature on 
God's earth." 

"No, it's sweet," said Lillian. "It's charming." She dropped the bracelet 
down on the table. She got up, put her hands on Rearden 's shoulders, and 
raising herself on tiptoe, kissed him on the cheek, saying, "Thank you, 
dear . " 

He did not move, did not bend his head down to her. After a while, he 
turned, took off his coat and sat down by the fire, apart from the others. He 
felt nothing but an immense exhaustion. 

He did not listen to their talk. He heard dimly that Lillian was arguing, 
defending him against his mother. 

"I know him better than you do," his mother was saying. "Hank Rearden' s 
not interested in man, beast or weed unless it's tied in some way to himself 
and his work. That's all he cares about. I've tried my best to teach him some 
humility, I've tried all my life, but I've failed." 

He had offered his mother unlimited means to live as and where she 
pleased; he wondered why she had insisted that she wanted to live with him. 
His success, he had thought, meant something to her, and if it did, then it 
was a bond between them, the only kind of bond he recognized; if she wanted a 
place in the home of her successful son, he would not deny it to her. 

"It's no use hoping to make a saint out of Henry, Mother," said Philip. 
"He wasn't meant to be one." 

"Oh but, Philip, you're wrong!" said Lillian. "You're so wrong! Henry has 
all the makings of a saint. That's the trouble." What did they seek from 
him?— thought Rearden— what were they after? He had never asked anything of 
them; it was they who wished to hold him, they who pressed a claim on him— and 
the claim seemed to have the form of affection, but it was a form which he 

found harder to endure than any sort of hatred. He despised causeless 
affection, just as he despised unearned wealth. They professed to love him 
for some unknown reason and they ignored all the things for which he could 
wish to be loved. He wondered what response they could hope to obtain from 
him in such manner— if his response was what they wanted. 

And it was, he thought; else why those constant complaints, those 
unceasing accusations about his indifference? Why that chronic air of 
suspicion, as if they were waiting to be hurt? He had never had a desire to 
hurt them, but he had always felt their defensive, reproachful expectation; 
they seemed wounded by anything he said, it was not a matter of his words or 
actions, it was almost . . . almost as if they were Wounded by the mere fact 
of his being. Don't start imagining the insane —he told himself severely, 
struggling to face the riddle with the strictest of his ruthless sense of 
justice. He could not condemn them without understanding; and he could not 

Did he like them? No, he thought; he had wanted to like them, which was 
not the same. He had wanted it in the name of some unstated potentiality 
which he had once expected to see in any human being. He felt nothing for 
them now, nothing but the merciless zero of indifference, not even the regret 
of a loss. Did he need any person as part of his life? Did he miss the 
feeling he had wanted to feel? No, he thought. Had he ever missed it? Yes, he 
thought, in his youth; not any longer. 

His sense of exhaustion was growing; he realized that it was boredom. 

He owed them the courtesy of hiding it, he thought— and sat motionless, 
fighting a desire for sleep that was turning into physical pain. 

His eyes were closing, when he felt two soft, moist fingers touching his 
hand: Paul Larkin had pulled a chair to his side and was leaning over for a 
private conversation. 

"I don't care what the industry says about it, Hank, you've got a great 
product in Rearden Metal, a great product, it will make a fortune, like 
everything you touch." 

"Yes," said Rearden, "it will." 

"I just ... I just hope you don't run into trouble." 
"What trouble?" 

"Oh, I don't know . . . the way things are nowadays . . . there's people, 
who . . . but how can we tell? . . . anything can happen. . . ." 
"What trouble?" 

Larkin sat hunched, looking up with his gentle, pleading eyes. His short, 
plumpish figure always seemed unprotected and incomplete, as if he needed a 
shell to shrink into at the slightest touch. His wistful eyes, his lost, 
helpless, appealing smile served as substitute for the shell. The smile was 
disarming, like that of a boy who throws himself at the mercy of an 
incomprehensible universe. He was fifty-three years old. 

"Your public relations aren't any too good, Hank," he said. "You've always 
had a bad press." 

"So what?" 

"You're not popular, Hank." 

"I haven't heard any complaints from my customers." 

"That's not what I mean. You ought to hire yourself a good press agent to 
sell you to the public, " 

"What for? It's steel that I'm selling." 

"But you don't want to have the public against you. Public opinion, you 
know— it can mean a lot." 

"I don't think the public's against me. And I don't think that it means a 
damn, one way or another, " 

"The newspapers are against you." 

"They have time to waste. I haven't." 

"I don't like it, Hank. It's not good." 

"What they write about you." 
"What do they write about me?" 

"Well, you know the stuff. That you're intractable. That you're ruthless. 
That you won't allow anyone any voice in the running of your mills. 
That your only goal is to make steel and to make money." 
"But that is my only goal." 
"But you shouldn't say it." 
"Why not? What is it I'm supposed to say?" 
"Oh, I don't know . . . But your mills—" 
"They're my mills, aren't they?" 

"Yes, but— but you shouldn't remind people of that too loudly. . . . 
You know how it is nowadays. . . . They think that your attitude is anti- 
social . " 

"I don't give a damn what they think," 
Paul Larkin sighed. 

"What's the matter, Paul? What are you driving at?" 

"Nothing . . . nothing in particular. Only one never knows what can happen 
in times like these. . . . One has to be so careful . . ." 

Rearden chuckled. "You're not trying to worry about me, are you?" 

"It's just that I'm your friend, Hank. I'm your friend. You know how much 
I admire you . " 

Paul Larkin had always been unlucky. Nothing he touched ever came off 
quite well, nothing ever quite failed or succeeded. He was a businessman, but 
he could not manage to remain for long in any one line of business. At the 
moment, he was struggling with a modest plant that manufactured mining 
equipment . 

He had clung to Rearden for years, in awed admiration. He came for advice, 
he asked for loans at times, but not often; the loans were modest and were 
always repaid, though not always on time. His motive in the relationship 
seemed to resemble the need of an anemic person who receives a kind of living 
transfusion from the mere sight of a savagely overabundant vitality. 

Watching Larkin 's efforts, Rearden felt what he did when he watched an ant 
struggling under the load of a matchstick. It's so hard for him, thought 
Rearden, and so easy for me. So he gave advice, attention and a tactful, 
patient interest, whenever he could. 

"I'm your friend, Hank." 

Rearden looked at him inquiringly. 

Larkin glanced away, as if debating something in his mind. After a while, 
he asked cautiously, "How is your man in Washington?" 
"Okay, I guess." 

"You ought to be sure of it. It's important." He looked up at Rearden, and 
repeated with a kind of stressed insistence, as if discharging a painful 
moral duty, "Hank, it's very important." 

"I suppose so." 

"In fact, that's what I came here to tell you." 
"For any special reason?" 

Larkin considered it and decided that the duty was discharged. "No," 
he said. 

Rearden disliked the subject. He knew that it was necessary to have a man 
to protect him from the legislature; all industrialists had to employ such 
men. But he had never given much attention to this aspect of his business; he 
could not quite convince himself that it was necessary. 

An inexplicable kind of distaste, part fastidiousness, part boredom, 
stopped him whenever he tried to consider it. 

"Trouble is, Paul, " he said, thinking aloud, "that the men one has to pick 
for that job are such a crummy lot," 

Larkin looked away. "That's life," he said. 

"Damned if I see why. Can you tell me that? What's wrong with the world?" 

Larkin shrugged sadly. "Why ask useless questions? How deep is the ocean? 
How high is the sky? Who is John Gait?" 

Rearden sat up straight. "No," he said sharply. "No. There's no reason to 
feel that way." 

He got up. His exhaustion had gone while he talked about his business. He 
felt a sudden spurt of rebellion, a need to recapture and defiantly to 
reassert his own view of existence, that sense of it which he had held while 
walking home tonight and which now seemed threatened in some nameless manner. 

He paced the room, his energy returning. He looked at his family. 

They were bewildered, unhappy children— he thought— all of them, even his 
mother, and he was foolish to resent their ineptitude; it came from their 
helplessness, not from malice. It was he who had to make himself learn to 
understand them, since he had so much to give, since they could never share 
his sense of joyous, boundless power. 

He glanced at them from across the room. His mother and Philip were 
engaged in some eager discussion; but he noted that they were not really 
eager, they were nervous. Philip sat in a low chair, his stomach forward, his 
weight on his shoulder blades, as if the miserable discomfort of his position 
were intended to punish the onlookers. 

"What's the matter, Phil?" Rearden asked, approaching him. "You look done 
in. " 

"I've had a hard day," said Philip sullenly. 

"You're not the only one who works hard," said his mother. "Others have 
problems, too— even if they're not billion-dollar, trans-super-continental 
problems like yours." 

"Why, that's good. I always thought that Phil should find some interest of 
his own." 

"Good? You mean you like to see your brother sweating his health away? It 
amuses you, doesn't it? I always thought it did." 
"Why, no, Mother. I'd like to help." 

"You don't have to help. You don't have to feel anything for any of us." 

Rearden had never known what his brother was doing or wished to do. He had 
sent Philip through college, but Philip had not been able to decide on any 
specific ambition. There was something wrong, by Rearden 's standards, with a 
man who did not seek any gainful employment, but he would not impose his 
standards on Philip; he could afford to support his brother and never notice 
the expense. Let him take it easy, Rearden had thought for years, let him 
have a chance to choose his career without the strain of struggling for a 
livelihood . 

"What were you doing today, Phil?" he asked patiently. 
"It wouldn't interest you." 

"It does interest me. That's why I'm asking." 

"I had to see twenty different people all over the place, from here to 
Redding to Wilmington." 

"What did you have to see them about?" 

"I am trying to raise money for Friends of Global Progress." 

Rearden had never been able to keep track of the many organizations to 
which Philip belonged, nor to get a clear idea of their activities. He had 
heard Philip talking vaguely about this one for the last six months. 

It seemed to be devoted to some sort of free lectures on psychology, folk 
music and co-operative farming. Rearden felt contempt for groups of that kind 
and saw no reason for a closer inquiry into their nature. 

He remained silent. Philip added without being prompted, "We need ten 
thousand dollars for a vital program, but it's a martyr's task, trying to 
raise money. There's not a speck of social conscience left in people. 

When I think of the kind of bloated money-bags I saw today— why, they spend 
more than that on any whim, but I couldn't squeeze just a hundred bucks a 
piece out of them, which was all I asked. They have no sense of moral duty, 
no . . . What are you laughing at?" he asked sharply. Rearden stood before 
him, grinning. 

It was so childishly blatant, thought Rearden, so helplessly crude: the 
hint and the insult, offered together. It would be so easy to squash Philip 
by returning the insult, he thought— by returning an insult which would be 
deadly because it would be true— that he could not bring himself to utter it. 
Surely, he thought, the poor fool knows he's at my mercy, knows he's opened 
himself to be hurt, so I don't have to do it, and my not doing it is my best 
answer, which he won't be able to miss. 

What sort of misery does he really live in, to get himself twisted quite 
so badly? 

And then Rearden thought suddenly that he could break through Philip's 
chronic wretchedness for once, give him a shock of pleasure, the unexpected 
gratification of a hopeless desire. He thought: What do I care about the 
nature of his desire?— it's his, just as Rearden Metal was mine— it must mean 
to him what that meant to me— let's see him happy just once, it might teach 
him something— didn ' t I say that happiness is the agent of purification?— I ' m 
celebrating tonight, so let him share in it— it will be so much for him, and 
so little for me. 

"Philip," he said, smiling, "call Miss Ives at my office tomorrow. 

She'll have a check for you for ten thousand dollars." 

Philip stared at him blankly; it was neither shock nor pleasure; it was 
just the empty stare of eyes that looked glassy. 

"Oh," said Philip, then added, "We'll appreciate it very much." 

There was no emotion in his voice, not even the simple one of greed. 

Rearden could not understand his own feeling: it was as if something 
leaden and empty were collapsing within him, he felt both the weight and the 
emptiness, together. He knew it was disappointment, but he wondered why it 
was so gray and ugly. 

"It's very nice of you, Henry," Philip said dryly. "I'm surprised. I 
didn't expect it of you." 

"Don't you understand it, Phil?" said Lillian, her voice peculiarly clear 
and lilting. "Henry's poured his metal today." She turned to Rearden. "Shall 
we declare it a national holiday, darling?" 

"You're a good man, Henry," said his mother, and added, "but not often 
enough . " 

Rearden stood looking at Philip, as if waiting. 

Philip looked away, then raised his eyes and held Rearden 's glance, as if 
engaged in a scrutiny of his own. 

"You don't really care about helping the underprivileged, do you?" 

Philip asked— and Rearden heard, unable to believe it, that the tone of his 
voice was reproachful. 

"No, Phil, I don't care about it at all. I only wanted you to be happy." 

"But that money is not for me. I am not collecting it for any personal 
motive. I have no selfish interest in the matter whatever." His voice was 
cold, with a note of self-conscious virtue. 

Rearden turned away. He felt a sudden loathing: not because the words were 
hypocrisy, but because they were true; Philip meant them. 

"By the way, Henry, " Philip added, "do you mind if I ask you to have Miss 
Ives give me the money in cash?" Rearden turned back to him, puzzled. "You 
see, Friends of Global Progress are a very progressive group and they have 

always maintained that you represent the blackest element of social 
retrogression ha the country, so it would embarrass us, you know, to have 
your name on our list of contributors, because somebody might accuse us of 
being in the pay of Hank Rearden." 

He wanted to slap Philip's face. But an almost unendurable contempt made 
him close his eyes, instead. 

"All right," he said quietly, "you can have it in cash." 

He walked away, to the farthest window of the room, and stood looking at 
the glow of the mills in the distance. 

He heard Larkin's voice crying after him, "Damn it, Hank, you shouldn't 
have given it to him!" 

Then Lillian's voice came, cold and gay: "But you're wrong, Paul, you're 
so wrong! What would happen to Henry's vanity if he didn't have us to throw 
alms to? What would become of his strength if he didn't have weaker people to 
dominate? What would he do with himself if he didn't keep us around as 
dependents? It's quite all right, really, I'm not criticizing him, it's just 
a law of human nature." 

She took the metal bracelet and held it up, letting it glitter in the 
lamplight . 

"A chain," she said. "Appropriate, isn't it? It's the chain by which he 
holds us all in bondage." 


The ceiling was that of a cellar, so heavy and low that people stooped 
when crossing the room, as if the weight of the vaulting rested on their 
shoulders. The circular booths of dark red leather were built into walls of 
stone that looked eaten by age and dampness. There were no windows, only 
patches of blue light shooting from dents in the masonry, the dead blue light 
proper for use in blackouts. The place was entered by way of narrow steps 
that led down, as if descending deep under the ground. This was the most 
expensive barroom in New York and it was built on the roof of a skyscraper. 

Four men sat at a table. Raised sixty floors above the city, they did not 
speak loudly as one speaks from a height in the freedom of air and space; 
they kept their voices low, as befitted a cellar. 

"Conditions and circumstances, Jim," said Orren Boyle. "Conditions and 
circumstances absolutely beyond human control. We had everything mapped to 
roll those rails, but unforeseen developments set in which nobody could have 
prevented. If you'd only given us a chance, Jim." 

"Disunity, " drawled James Taggart, "seems to be the basic cause of all 
social problems. My sister has a certain influence with a certain element 
among our stockholders. Their disruptive tactics cannot always be defeated." 

"You said it, Jim. Disunity, that's the trouble. It's my absolute opinion 
that in our complex industrial society, no business enterprise can succeed 
without sharing the burden of the problems of other enterprises." 

Taggart took a sip of his drink and put it down again. "I wish they'd fire 
that bartender," he said. 

"For instance, consider Associated Steel. We've got the most modern plant 
in the country and the best organization. That seems to me to be an 
indisputable fact, because we got the Industrial Efficiency Award of Globe 
Magazine last year. So we can maintain that we've done our best and nobody 
can blame us. But we cannot help it if the iron ore situation is a national 
problem. We could not get the ore, Jim." 

Taggart said nothing. He sat with his elbows spread wide on the table top. 
The table was uncomfortably small, and this made it more uncomfortable for 
his three companions, but they did not seem to question his privilege. 

"Nobody can get ore any longer," said Boyle. "Natural exhaustion of the 
mines, you know, and the wearing out of equipment, and shortages of 
materials, and difficulties of transportation, and other unavoidable 
conditions . " 

"The ore industry is crumbling. That's what's killing the mining equipment 
business," said Paul Larkin. 

"It's been proved that every business depends upon every other business," 
said Orren Boyle. "So everybody ought to share the burdens of everybody 
else . " 

"That is, I think, true," said Wesley Mouch. But nobody ever paid any 
attention to Wesley Mouch. 

"My purpose," said Orren Boyle, "is the preservation of a free economy. 
It's generally conceded that free economy is now on trial. Unless it proves 
its social value and assumes its social responsibilities, the people won't 
stand for it. If it doesn't develop a public spirit, it's done for, make no 
mistake about that." 

Orren Boyle had appeared from nowhere, five years ago, and had since made 
the cover of every national news magazine. He had started out with a hundred 
thousand dollars of his own and a two-hundred million-dollar loan from the 
government. Now he headed an enormous concern which had swallowed many 

smaller companies. This proved, he liked to say, that individual ability 
still had a chance to succeed in the world. 

"The only justification of private property," said Orren Boyle, "is public 
service . " 

"That is, I think, indubitable," said Wesley Mouch. 

Orren Boyle made a noise, swallowing his liquor. He was a large man with 
big, virile gestures; everything about his person was loudly full of life, 
except the small black slits of his eyes. 

"Jim," he said, "Rearden Metal seems to be a colossal kind of swindle." 

"Uh-huh, " said Taggart. 

"I hear there's not a single expert who's given a favorable report on it." 
"No, not one . " 

"We've been improving steel rails for generations, and increasing their 
weight. Now, is it true that these Rearden Metal rails are to be lighter than 
the cheapest grade of steel?" 

"That's right," said Taggart. "Lighter." 

"But it's ridiculous, Jim. It's physically impossible. For your heavy- 
duty, high-speed, main-line track?" 
"That's right." 

"But you're just inviting disaster." 
"My sister is . " 

Taggart made the stem of his glass whirl slowly between two fingers. 
There was a moment of silence. 

"The National Council of Metal Industries," said Orren Boyle, "passed a 
resolution to appoint a committee to study the question of Rearden Metal, 
inasmuch as its use may be an actual public hazard." 

"That is, in my opinion, wise," said Wesley Mouch. 

"When everybody agrees," Taggart 's voice suddenly went shrill, "when 
people are unanimous, how does one man dare to dissent? By what right? That's 
what I want to know— by what right?" 

Boyle's eyes darted to Taggart ' s face, but the dim light of the room made 
it impossible to see faces clearly: he saw only a pale, bluish smear. 

"When we think of the natural resources, at a time of critical shortage," 
Boyle said softly, "when we think of the crucial raw materials that are being 
wasted on an irresponsible private experiment, when we think of the ore . . 

He did not finish. He glanced at Taggart again. But Taggart seemed to know 
that Boyle was waiting and to find the silence enjoyable. 

"The public has a vital stake in natural resources, Jim, such as iron ore. 
The public can't remain indifferent to reckless, selfish waste by an anti- 
social individual. After all, private property is a trusteeship held for the 
benefit of society as a whole." 

Taggart glanced at Boyle and smiled; the smile was pointed, it seemed to 
say that something in his words was an answer to something in the words of 
Boyle. "The liquor they serve here is swill. I suppose that's the price we 
have to pay for not being crowded by all kinds of rabble. But I do wish 
they'd recognize that they're dealing with experts. 

Since I hold the purse strings, I expect to get my money's worth and at my 
pleasure . " 

Boyle did not answer; his face had become sullen. "Listen, Jim . . ." 
he began heavily. 

Taggart smiled. "What? I'm listening." 

"Jim, you will agree, I'm sure, that there's nothing more destructive than 
a monopoly." 

"Yes," said Taggart, "on the one hand. On the other, there's the blight of 
unbridled competition." 

"That's true. That's very true. The proper course is always, in my 
opinion, in the middle. So it is, I think, the duty of society to snip the 
extremes, now isn't it?" 

"Yes," said Taggart, "it is." 

"Consider the picture in the iron-ore business. The national output seems 
to be falling at an ungodly rate. It threatens the existence of the whole 
steel industry. Steel mills are shutting down all over the country. 

There's only one mining company that's lucky enough not to be affected by 
the general conditions. Its output seems to be plentiful and always available 
on schedule. But who gets the benefit of it? Nobody except its owner. Would 
you say that that's fair?" 

"No," said Taggart, "it isn't fair." 

"Most of us don't own iron mines. How can we compete with a man who's got 
a corner on God's natural resources? Is it any wonder that he can always 
deliver steel, while we have to struggle and wait and lose our customers and 
go out of business? Is it in the public interest to let one man destroy an 
entire industry?" 

"No," said Taggart, "it isn't." 

"It seems to me that the national policy ought to be aimed at the 
objective of giving everybody a chance at his fair share of iron ore, with a 
view toward the preservation of the industry as a whole. Don't you think so?" 

"I think so." 

Boyle sighed. Then he said cautiously, "But I guess there aren't many 
people in Washington capable of understanding a progressive social policy." 

Taggart said slowly, "There are. No, not many and not easy to approach, 
but there are. I might speak to them." 

Boyle picked up his drink and swallowed it in one gulp, as if he had heard 
all he had wanted to hear. 

"Speaking of progressive policies, Orren, " said Taggart, "you might ask 
yourself whether at a time of transportation shortages, when so many 
railroads are going bankrupt and large areas are left without rail service, 
whether it is in the public interest to tolerate wasteful duplication of 
services and the destructive, dog-eat-dog competition of newcomers in 
territories where established companies have historical priority." 

"Well, now," said Boyle pleasantly, "that seems to be an interesting 
question to consider. I might discuss it with a few friends in the National 
Alliance of Railroads." 

"Friendships," said Taggart in the tone of an idle abstraction, "are more 
valuable than gold." Unexpectedly, he turned to Larkin. "Don't you think so, 

"Why . . . yes," said Larkin, astonished. "Yes, of course." 

"I am counting on yours." 


"I am counting on your many friendships." 

They all seemed to know why Larkin did not answer at once; his shoulders 
seemed to shrink down, closer to the table. "If everybody could pull for a 
common purpose, then nobody would have to be hurt!" 

he cried suddenly, in a tone of incongruous despair; he saw Taggart 
watching him and added, pleading, "I wish we didn't have to hurt anybody." 

"That is an anti-social attitude," drawled Taggart. "People who are 
afraid, to sacrifice somebody have no business talking about a common 
purpose . " 

"But I'm a student of history," said Larkin hastily. "I recognize 
historical necessity." 
"Good," said Taggart. 

"I can't be expected to buck the trend of the whole world, can I?" 
Larkin seemed to plead, but the plea was not addressed to anyone. 

"Can I?" 

"You can't, Mr. Larkin, " said Wesley Mouch. "You and I are not to be 
blamed, if we—" 

Larkin jerked his head away; it was almost a shudder; he could not bear to 
look at Mouch. 

"Did you have a good time in Mexico, Orren?" asked Taggart, his voice 
suddenly loud and casual. All of them seemed to know that the purpose of 
their meeting was accomplished and whatever they had come here to understand 
was understood. 

"Wonderful place, Mexico," Boyle answered cheerfully. "Very stimulating 
and thought-provoking. Their food rations are something awful, though. I got 
sick. But they're working mighty hard to put their country on its feet." 

"How are things going down there?" 

"Pretty splendid, it seems to me, pretty splendid. Right at the moment, 
however, they're . . . But then, what they're aiming at is the future. The 
People's State of Mexico has a great future. They'll beat us all in a few 
years . " 

"Did you go down to the San Sebastian Mines?" 

The four figures at the table sat up straighter and tighter; all of them 
had invested heavily in the stock of the San Sebastian Mines. 

Boyle did not answer at once, so that his voice seemed unexpected and 
unnaturally loud when it burst forth: "Oh, sure, certainly, that's what I 
wanted to see most." 


"And what?" 

"How are things going?" 

"Great. Great. They must certainly have the biggest deposits of copper on 
earth, down inside that mountain!" 
"Did they seem to be busy?" 
"Never saw such a busy place in my life." 
"What were they busy doing?" 

"Well, you know, with the kind of Spic superintendent they have down 
there, I couldn't understand half of what he was talking about, but they're 
certainly busy." 

"Any . . . trouble of any kind?" 

"Trouble? Not at San Sebastian. It's private property, the last piece of 
it left in Mexico, and that does seem to make a difference." 

"Orren," Taggart asked cautiously, "what about those rumors that they're 
planning to nationalize the San Sebastian Mines?" 

"Slander," said Boyle angrily, "plain, vicious slander. I know it for 
certain. I had dinner with the Minister of Culture and lunches with all the 
rest of the boys." 

"There ought to be a law against irresponsible gossip, " said Taggart 
sullenly. "Let's have another drink." 

He waved irritably at a waiter. There was a small bar in a dark corner of 
the room, where an old, wizened bartender stood for long stretches of time 
without moving. When called upon, he moved with contemptuous slowness. His 
job was that of servant to men's relaxation and pleasure, but his manner was 
that of an embittered quack ministering to some guilty disease. 

The four men sat in silence until the waiter returned with their drinks. 
The glasses he placed on the table were four spots of faint blue glitter in 
the semi-darkness, like four feeble jets of gas flame. Taggart reached for 
his glass and smiled suddenly. 

"Let's drink to the sacrifices to historical necessity," he said, looking 
at Larkin. 

There was a moment's pause; in a lighted room, it would have been the 
contest of two men holding each other's eyes; here, they were merely looking 

at each other's eye sockets. Then Larkin picked up his glass, "It's my party, 
boys," said Taggart, as they drank. 

Nobody found anything else to say. until Boyle spoke up with indifferent 
curiosity. "Say, Jim, I meant to ask you, what in hell's the matter with your 
train service down on the San Sebastian Line?" 

"Why, what do you mean? What is the matter with it?" 

"Well, I don't know, but running just one passenger train a day is—" 
"One train?" 

"—is pretty measly service, it seems to me, and what a train! You must 
have inherited those coaches from your great-grandfather, and he must have 
used them pretty hard. And where on earth did you get that wood-burning 
locomotive? " 

"Wood-burning? ' 

"That's what I said, wood-burning. I never saw one before, except in 
photographs. What museum did you drag it out of? Now don't act as if you 
didn't know it, just tell me what's the gag?" 

"Yes, of course I knew it," said Taggart hastily. "It was just . . . 

You just happened to choose the one week when we had a little trouble with 
our motive power— our new engines are on order, but there's been a slight 
delay— you know what a problem we're having with the manufacturers of 
locomotives— but it's only temporary." 

"Of course," said Boyle. "Delays can't be helped. It's the strangest train 
I ever rode on, though. Nearly shook my guts out." 

Within a few minutes, they noticed that Taggart had become silent. 

He seemed preoccupied with a problem of his own. When he rose abruptly, 
without apology, they rose, too, accepting it as a command. 

Larkin muttered, smiling too strenuously, "It was a pleasure, Jim. 

A pleasure. That's how great projects are born— over a drink with friends." 

"Social reforms are slow," said Taggart coldly. "It is advisable to be 
patient and cautious." For the first time, he turned to Wesley Mouch. 

"What I like about you, Mouch, is that you don't talk too much." 

Wesley Mouch was Rearden's Washington man. 

There was still a remnant of sunset light in the sky, when Taggart and 
Boyle emerged together into the street below. The transition was faintly 
shocking to them— the enclosed barroom led one to expect midnight darkness. A 
tall building stood outlined against the sky, sharp and straight like a 
raised sword. In the distance beyond it, there hung the calendar. 

Taggart fumbled irritably with his coat collar, buttoning it against the 
chill of the streets. He had not intended to go back to the office tonight, 
but he had to go back. He had to see his sister. 

". . .a difficult undertaking ahead of us, Jim," Boyle was saying, "a 
difficult undertaking, with so many dangers and complications and so much at 
stake ..." 

"It all depends," James Taggart answered slowly, "on knowing the people 
who make it possible. . . . That's what has to be known— who makes it 
possible . " 

Dagny Taggart was nine years old when she decided that she would run the 
Taggart Transcontinental Railroad some day. She stated it to herself when she 
stood alone between the rails, looking at the two straight lines of steel 
that went off into the distance and met in a single point. What she felt was 
an arrogant pleasure at the way the track cut through the woods: it did not 
belong in the midst of ancient trees, among green branches that hung down to 
meet green brush and the lonely spears of wild flowers— but there it was. The 
two steel lines were brilliant in the sun, and the black ties were like the 
rungs of a ladder which she had to climb. 

It was not a sudden decision, but only the final seal of words upon 
something she had known long ago. In unspoken understanding, as if bound by a 

vow it had never been necessary to take, she and Eddie Willers had given 
themselves to the railroad from the first conscious days of their childhood. 

She felt a bored indifference toward the immediate world around her, 
toward other children and adults alike. She took it as a regrettable 
accident, to be borne patiently for a while, that she happened to be 
imprisoned among people who were dull. She had caught a glimpse of another 
world and she knew that it existed somewhere, the world that had created 
trains, bridges, telegraph wires and signal lights winking in the night. She 
had to wait, she thought, and grow up to that world. 

She never tried to explain why she liked the railroad. Whatever it was 
that others felt, she knew that this was one emotion for which they had no 
equivalent and no response. She felt the same emotion in school, in classes 
of mathematics, the only lessons she liked. She felt the excitement of 
solving problems, the insolent delight of taking up a challenge and disposing 
of it without effort, the eagerness to meet another, harder test. She felt, 
at the same time, a growing respect for the adversary, for a science that was 
so clean, so strict, so luminously rational. Studying mathematics, she felt, 
quite simply and at once: "How great that men have done this" and "How 
wonderful that I'm so good at it." It was the joy of admiration and of one's 
own ability, growing together. Her feeling for the railroad was the same: 
worship of the skill that had gone to make it, of the ingenuity of someone's 
clean, reasoning mind, worship with a secret smile that said she would know 
how to make it better some day. She hung around the tracks and the 
roundhouses like a humble student, but the humility had a touch of future 
pride, a pride to be earned. 

"You're unbearably conceited," was one of the two sentences she heard 
throughout her childhood, even though she never spoke of her own ability. The 
other sentence was: "You're selfish." She asked what was meant, but never 
received an answer. She looked at the adults, wondering how they could 
imagine that she would feel guilt from an undefined accusation. 

She was twelve years old when she told Eddie Willers that she would run 
the railroad when they grew up. She was fifteen when it occurred to her for 
the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. 
To hell with that, she thought— and never worried about it again. 

She went to work for Taggart Transcontinental at the age of sixteen. 

Her father permitted it: he was amused and a little curious. She started 
as night operator at a small country station. She had to work nights for the 
first few years, while attending a college of engineering. 

James Taggart began his career on the railroad at the same time; he was 
twenty-one. He started in the Department of Public Relations. 

Dagny's rise among the men who operated Taggart Transcontinental was swift 
and uncontested. She took positions of responsibility because there was no 
one else to take them. There were a few rare men of talent around her, but 
they were becoming rarer every year. Her superiors, who held the authority, 
seemed afraid to exercise it, they spent their time avoiding decisions, so 
she told people what to do and they did it. 

At every step of her rise, she did the work long before she was granted 
the title. It was like advancing through empty rooms. Nobody opposed her, yet 
nobody approved of her progress. 

Her father seemed astonished and proud of her, but he said nothing and 
there was sadness in his eyes when he looked at her in the office She was 
twenty-nine years old when he died. "There has always been a Taggart to run 
the railroad," was the last thing he said to her. He looked at her with an 
odd glance: it had the quality of a salute and of compassion, together. 

The controlling stock of Taggart Transcontinental was left to James 
Taggart. He was thirty-four when he became President of the railroad Dagny 
had expected the Board of Directors to elect him, but she had never been able 

to understand why they did it so eagerly. They talked about tradition, the 
president had always been the eldest son of the Taggart family; they elected 
James Taggart in the same manner as they refused to walk under a ladder, to 
propitiate the same kind of fear. They talked about his gift of "making 
railroads popular," his "good press," his "Washington ability." He seemed 
unusually skillful at obtaining favors from the Legislature. 

Dagny knew nothing about the field of "Washington ability" or what such an 
ability implied. But it seemed to be necessary, so she dismissed it with the 
thought that there were many kinds of work which were offensive, yet 
necessary, such as cleaning sewers; somebody had to do it, and Jim seemed to 
like it. 

She had never aspired to the presidency; the Operating Department was her 
only concern. When she went out on the line, old railroad men, who hated Jim, 
said, "There will always be a Taggart to run the railroad, " looking at her as 
her father had looked. She was armed against Jim by the conviction that he 
was not smart enough to harm the railroad too much and that she would always 
be able to correct whatever damage he caused. 

At sixteen, sitting at her operator's desk, watching the lighted windows 
of Taggart trains roll past, she had thought that she had entered her kind of 
world. In the years since, she learned that she hadn't. The adversary she 
found herself forced to fight was not worth matching or beating; it was not a 
superior ability which she would have found honor in challenging; it was 
ineptitude— a gray spread of cotton that deemed soft and shapeless, that could 
offer no resistance to anything or anybody, yet managed to be a barrier in 
her way. She stood, disarmed, before the riddle of what made this possible. 
She could find no answer. 

It was only in the first few years that she felt herself screaming 
silently, at times, for a glimpse of human ability, a single glimpse of 
clean, hard, radiant competence. She had fits of tortured longing for a 
friend or an enemy with a mind better than her own. But the longing passed. 
She had a job to do. She did not have time to feel pain; not often. 

The first step of the policy that James Taggart brought to the railroad 
was the construction of the San Sebastian Line. Many men were responsible for 
it; but to Dagny, one name stood written across that venture, a name that 
wiped out all others wherever she saw it. It stood across five years of 
struggle, across miles of wasted track, across sheets of figures that 
recorded the losses of Taggart Transcontinental like a red trickle from a 
wound which would not heal— as it stood on the ticker tape of every stock 
exchange left in the world— as it stood on smokestacks in the red glare of 
furnaces melting copper— as it stood in scandalous headlines— as it stood on 
parchment pages recording the nobility of the centuries— as it stood on cards 
attached to flowers in the boudoirs of women scattered through three 
continents . 

The name was Francisco d'Anconia. 

At the age of twenty-three, when he inherited his fortune, Francisco 
d'Anconia had been famous as the copper king of the world. Now, at thirty- 
six, he was famous as the richest man and the most spectacularly worthless 
playboy on earth. He was the last descendant of one of the noblest families 
of Argentina. He owned cattle ranches, coffee plantations and most of the 
copper mines of Chile. He owned half of South America and sundry mines 
scattered through the United States as small change. 

When Francisco d'Anconia suddenly bought miles of bare mountains in 
Mexico, news leaked out that he had discovered vast deposits of copper. He 
made no effort to sell stock in his venture; the stock was begged out of his 
hands, and he merely chose those whom he wished to favor from among the 
applicants. His financial talent was called phenomenal; no one had ever 
beaten him in any transaction— he added to his incredible fortune with every 

deal he touched and every step he made, when he took the trouble to make it. 
Those who censured him most were first to seize the chance of riding on his 
talent, toward a share of his new wealth. James Taggart, Orren Boyle and 
their friends were among the heaviest stockholders of the project which 
Francisco d'Anconia had named the San Sebastian Mines. 

Dagny was never able to discover what influences prompted James Taggart to 
build a railroad branch from Texas into the wilderness of San Sebastian. It 
seemed likely that he did not know it himself: like a field without a 
windbreak, he seemed open to any current, and the final sum was made by 
chance, A few among the Directors of Taggart Transcontinental objected to the 
project. The company needed all its resources to rebuild the Rio Norte Line; 
it could not do both. But James Taggart was the road's new president. It was 
the first year of his administration. He won. 

The People's State of Mexico was eager to co-operate, and signed a 
contract guaranteeing for two hundred years the property right of Taggart 
Transcontinental to its railroad line in a country where no property rights 
existed. Francisco d'Anconia had obtained the same guaranty for his mines. 

Dagny fought against the building of the San Sebastian Line. She fought by 
means of whoever would listen to her; but she was only an assistant in the 
Operating Department, too young, without authority, and nobody listened. 

She was unable, then or since, to understand the motives of those who 
decided to build the line. Sitting as a helpless spectator, a minority 
member, at one of the Board meetings, she felt a strange evasiveness in the 
air of the room, in every speech, in every argument, as if the real reason of 
their decision were never stated, but clear to everyone except herself. 

They spoke about the future importance of the trade with Mexico, about a 
rich stream of freight, about the large revenues assured to the exclusive 
carrier of an inexhaustible supply of copper. They proved it by citing 
Francisco d'Anconia 's past achievements. They did not mention any 
mineralogical facts about the San Sebastian Mines. Few facts were available; 
the information which d'Anconia had released was not very specific; but they 
did not seem to need facts. 

They spoke at great length about the poverty of the Mexicans and their 
desperate need of railroads, "They've never had a chance." "It is our duty to 
help an underprivileged nation to develop. A country, it seems to me, is its 
neighbors ' keeper . " 

She sat, listening, and she thought of the many branch lines which Taggart 
Transcontinental had had to abandon; the revenues of the great railroad had 
been falling slowly for many years. She thought of the ominous need of 
repairs, ominously neglected over the entire system. 

Their policy on the problem of maintenance was not a policy but a game 
they seemed to be playing with a piece of rubber that could be stretched a 
little, then a little more. 

"The Mexicans, it seems to me, are a very diligent people, crushed by 
their primitive economy. How can they become industrialized if nobody lends 
them a hand?" "When considering an investment, we should, in my opinion, take 
a chance on human beings, rather than on purely material factors." 

She thought of an engine that lay in a ditch beside the Rio Norte Line, 
because a splice bar had cracked. She thought of the five days when all 
traffic was stopped on the Rio Norte Line, because a retaining wall had 
collapsed, pouring tons of rock across the track. 

"Since a man must think of the good of his brothers before he thinks of 
his own, it seems to me that a nation must think of its neighbors before it 
thinks of itself." 

She thought of a newcomer called Ellis Wyatt whom people were beginning to 
watch, because his activity was the first trickle of a torrent of goods about 
to burst from the dying stretches of Colorado. The Rio Norte Line was being 

allowed to run its way to a final collapse, just when its fullest efficiency 
was about to be needed and used. 

"Material greed isn't everything. There are non-material ideals to 
consider." "I confess to a feeling of shame when I think that we own a huge 
network of railways, while the Mexican people have nothing but one or two 
inadequate lines." "The old theory of economic self-sufficiency has been 
exploded long ago. It is impossible for one country to prosper in the midst 
of a starving world." 

She thought that to make Taggart Transcontinental what it had been once, 
long before her time, every available rail, spike and dollar was needed— and 
how desperately little of it was available. 

They spoke also, at the same session, in the same speeches, about the 
efficiency of the Mexican government that held complete control of 
everything. Mexico had a great future, they said, and would become a 
dangerous competitor in a few years. "Mexico's got discipline," the men of 
the Board kept saying, with a note of envy in their voices. 

James Taggart let it be understood— in unfinished sentences and undefined 
hints— that his friends in Washington, whom he never named, wished to see a 
railroad line built in Mexico, that such a line would be of great help in 
matters of international diplomacy, that the good will of the public opinion 
of the world would more than repay Taggart Transcontinental for its 
investment . 

They voted to build the San Sebastian Line at a cost of thirty million 
dollars . 

When Dagny left the Board room and walked through the clean, cold air of 
the streets, she heard two words repeated clearly, insistently in the numbed 
emptiness of her mind: Get out . . . Get out . . . 

Get out. 

She listened, aghast. The thought of leaving Taggart Transcontinental did 
not belong among the things she could hold as conceivable. She felt terror, 
not at the thought, but at the question of what had made her think it. She 
shook her head angrily; she told herself that Taggart Transcontinental would 
now need her more than ever. 

Two of the Directors resigned; so did the Vice-President in Charge of 
Operation. He was replaced by a friend of James Taggart, Steel rail was laid 
across the Mexican desert— while orders were issued to reduce the speed of 
trains on the Rio Norte Line, because the track was shot. A depot of 
reinforced concrete, with marble columns and mirrors, was built amidst the 
dust of an unpaved square in a Mexican village— while a train of tank cars 
carrying oil went hurtling down an embankment and into a blazing junk pile, 
because a rail had split on the Rio Norte Line. Ellis Wyatt did not wait for 
the court to decide whether the accident was an act of God, as James Taggart 
claimed, He transferred the shipping of his oil to the Phoenix-Durango, an 
obscure railroad which was small and struggling, but struggling well. 

This was the rocket that sent the Phoenix-Durango on its way. From then 
on, it grew, as Wyatt Oil grew, as factories grew in nearby valleys —as a 
band of rails and ties grew, at the rate of two miles a month, across the 
scraggly fields of Mexican corn. 

Dagny was thirty-two years old, when she told James Taggart that she would 
resign. She had run the Operating Department for the past three years, 
without title, credit or authority. She was defeated by loathing for the 
hours, the days, the nights she had to waste circumventing the interference 
of Jim's friend who bore the title of Vice-President in Charge of Operation. 
The man had no policy, and any decision he made was always hers, but he made 
it only after he had made every effort to make it impossible. What she 
delivered to her brother was an ultimatum. He gasped, "But, Dagny, you're a 

woman! A woman as Operating Vice-President? It's unheard of! The Board won't 
consider it!" "Then I'm through," she answered. 

She did not think of what she would do with the rest of her life. To face 
leaving Taggart Transcontinental was like waiting to have her legs amputated; 
she thought she would let it happen, then take up the load of whatever was 

She never understood why the Board of Directors voted unanimously to make 
her Vice-President in Charge of Operation. 

It was she who finally gave them their San Sebastian Line. When she took 
over, the construction had been under way for three years; one third of its 
track was laid; the cost to date was beyond the authorized total. She fired 
Jim's friends and found a contractor who completed the job in one year. 

The San Sebastian Line was now in operation. No surge of trade had come 
across the border, nor any trains loaded with copper. A few carloads came 
clattering down the mountains from San Sebastian, at long intervals. The 
mines, said Francisco d'Anconia, were still in the process of development. 
The drain on Taggart Transcontinental had not stopped. 

Now she sat at the desk in her office, as she had sat for many evenings, 
trying to work out the problem of what branches could save the system and in 
how many years . 

The Rio Norte Line, when rebuilt, would redeem the rest. As she looked at 
the sheets of figures announcing losses and more losses, she did not think of 
the long, senseless agony of the Mexican venture. She thought of a telephone 
call. "Hank, can you save us? Can you give us rail on the shortest notice and 
the longest credit possible?" A quiet, steady voice had answered, "Sure." 

The thought was a point of support. She leaned over the sheets of paper on 
her desk, finding it suddenly easier to concentrate. There was one thing, at 
least, that could be counted upon not to crumble when needed. 

James Taggart crossed the anteroom of Dagny's office, still holding the 
kind of confidence he had felt among his companions at the barroom half an 
hour ago. When he opened her door, the confidence vanished. He crossed the 
room to her desk like a child being dragged to punishment, storing the 
resentment for all his future years. 

He saw a head bent over sheets of paper, the light of the desk lamp 
glistening on strands of disheveled hair, a white shirt clinging to her 
shoulders, its loose folds suggesting the thinness of her body. 

"What is it, Jim?" 

"What are you trying to pull on the San Sebastian Line?" 
She raised her head. "Pull? Why?" 

"What sort of schedule are we running down there and what kind of trains?" 
She laughed; the sound was gay and a little weary. "You really ought to 
read the reports sent to the president's office, Jim, once in a while." 
"What do you mean?" 

"We've been running that schedule and those trains on the San Sebastian 
for the last three months." 

"One passenger train a day?" 

"—in the morning. And one freight train every other night." 

"Good God! On an important branch like that?" 

"The important branch can't pay even for those two trams." 

"But the Mexican people expect real service from us ! " 

"I'm sure they do." 

"They need trains ! " 

"For what?" 

"For ... To help them develop local industries. How do you expect them 
to develop if we don't give them transportation?" 
"I don't expect them to develop," 

"That's just your personal opinion. I don't see what right you had to take 
it upon yourself to cut our schedules. Why, the copper traffic alone will pay 
for everything." 


He looked at her; his face assumed the satisfaction of a person about to 
utter something that has the power to hurt. "You don't doubt the success of 
those copper mines, do you?— when it's Francisco d'Anconia who's running 
them?" He stressed the name, watching her. 

She said, "He may be your friend, but—" 

"My friend? I thought he was yours." 

She said steadily, "Not for the last ten years." 

"That's too bad, isn't it? Still, he's one of the smartest operators on 
earth. He's never failed in a venture— I mean, a business venture— and he's 
sunk millions of his own money into those mines, so we can rely on his 
judgment . " 

"When will you realize that Francisco d'Anconia has turned into a 
worthless bum?" 

He chuckled. "I always thought that that's what he was— as far as his 
personal character is concerned. But you didn't share my opinion. Yours was 
opposite. Oh my, how opposite! Surely you remember our quarrels on the 
subject? Shall I quote some of the things you said about him? I can only 
surmise as to some of the things you did." 

"Do you wish to discuss Francisco d'Anconia? Is that what you came here 

His face showed the anger of failure— because hers showed nothing. 
"You know damn well what I came here for!" he snapped. "I've heard some 
incredible things about our trains in Mexico." 
"What things?" 

"What sort of rolling stock are you using down there?" 
"The worst I could find." 
"You admit that?" 

"I've stated it on paper in the reports I sent you." 
"Is it true that you're using wood-burning locomotives?" 
"Eddie found them for me in somebody's abandoned roundhouse down in 
Louisiana. He couldn't even learn the name of the railroad." 
"And that's what you're running as Taggart trains?" 
"Yes . " 

"What in hell's the big idea? What's going on? I want to know what's going 

She spoke evenly, looking straight at him. "If you want to know, I have 
left nothing but junk on the San Sebastian Line, and as little of that as 
possible. I have moved everything that could be moved— switch engines, shop 
tools, even typewriters and mirrors— out of Mexico." 

"Why in blazes?" 

"So that the looters won't have too much to loot when they nationalize the 
line. " 

He leaped to his feet. "You won't get away with that! This is one time you 
won't get away with it! To have the nerve to pull such a low, unspeakable . . 
. just because of some vicious rumors, when we have a contract for two 
hundred years and . . . " 

"Jim," she said slowly, "there's not a car, engine or ton of coal that we 
can spare anywhere on the system." 

"I won't permit it, I absolutely won't permit such an outrageous policy 
toward a friendly people who need our help. Material greed isn't everything. 
After all, there are non-material considerations, even though you wouldn't 
understand them!" 

She pulled a pad forward and picked up a pencil. "All right, Jim. 

How many trains do you wish me to run on the San Sebastian Line?" 

"Which runs do you wish me to cut and on which of our lines— in order to 
get the Diesels and the steel coaches?" 
"I don't want you to cut any runs!" 
"Then where do I get the equipment for Mexico?" 
"That's for you to figure out. It's your job." 
"I am not able to do it. You will have to decide." 

"That's your usual rotten trick— switching the responsibility to me!" 

"I'm waiting for orders, Jim." 

' Tm not going to let you trap me like that!" 

She dropped the pencil. "Then the San Sebastian schedule will remain as it 
is . " 

"Just wait till the Board meeting next month. I'll demand a decision, Once 
and for all, on how far the Operating Department is to be permitted to exceed 
its authority. You're going to have to answer for this." 

"Ill answer for it." 

She was back at her work before the door had closed on James Taggart. 

When she finished, pushed the papers aside and glanced up, the sky was 
black beyond the window, and the city had become a glowing spread of lighted 
glass without masonry. She rose reluctantly. She resented the small defeat of 
being tired, but she knew that she was, tonight. 

The outer office was dark and empty; her staff had gone. Only Eddie 
Willers was still there, at his desk in his glass-partitioned enclosure that 
looked like a cube of light in a comer of the large room. She waved to him on 
her way out. 

She did not take the elevator to the lobby of the building, but to the 
concourse of the Taggart Terminal. She liked to walk through it on her way 
home . 

She had always felt that the concourse looked like a temple. Glancing up 
at the distant ceiling, she saw dim vaults supported by giant granite 
columns, and the tops of vast windows glazed by darkness. The vaulting held 
the solemn peace of a cathedral, spread in protection high above the rushing 
activity of men. 

Dominating the concourse, but ignored by the travelers as a habitual 
sight, stood a statue of Nathaniel Taggart, the founder of the railroad. 

Dagny was the only one who remained aware of it and had never been able to 
take it for granted. To look at that statue whenever she crossed the 
concourse, was the only form of prayer she knew. 

Nathaniel Taggart had been a penniless adventurer who had come from 
somewhere in New England and built a railroad across a continent, in the days 
of the first steel rails. His railroad still stood; his battle to build it 
had dissolved into a legend, because people preferred not to Understand it or 
to believe it possible. 

He was a man who had never accepted the creed that others had the right to 
stop him. He set his goal and moved toward it, his way as straight as one of 
his rails. He never sought any loans, bonds, subsidies, land grants or 
legislative favors from the government. He obtained money from the men who 
owned it, going from door to door— 

from the mahogany doors of bankers to the clapboard doors of lonely 
farmhouses. He never talked about the public good. He merely told people that 
they would make big profits on his railroad, he told them why he expected the 
profits and he gave his reasons. He had good reasons. 

Through all the generations that followed, Taggart Transcontinental was 
one of the few railroads that never went bankrupt and the only one whose 
controlling stock remained in the hands of the founder's descendants. 

In his lifetime, the name "Nat Taggart" was not famous, but notorious; it 
was repeated, not in homage, but in resentful curiosity; and if anyone 
admired him, it was as one admires a successful bandit. Yet no penny of his 
wealth had been obtained by force or fraud; he was guilty of nothing, except 
that he earned his own fortune and never forgot that it was his. 

Many stories were whispered about him. It was said that in the wilderness 
of the Middle West, he murdered a state legislator who attempted to revoke a 
charter granted to him, to revoke it when his rail was laid halfway across 
the state; some legislators had planned to make a fortune on Taggart stock— by 
selling it short. Nat Taggart was indicted for the murder, but the charge 
could never be proved. He had no trouble with legislators from then on. 

It was said that Nat Taggart had staked his life on his railroad many 
times; but once, he staked more than his life. Desperate for funds, with the 
construction of his line suspended, he threw down three flights of stairs a 
distinguished gentleman who offered him a loan from the government. Then he 
pledged his wife as security for a loan from a millionaire who hated him and 
admired her beauty. He repaid the loan on time and did not have to surrender 
his pledge. The deal had been made with his wife's consent. She was a great 
beauty from the noblest family of a southern state, and she had been 
disinherited by her family because she eloped with Nat Taggart when he was 
only a ragged young adventurer. 

Dagny regretted at times that Nat Taggart was her ancestor. What she felt 
for him did not belong in the category of unchosen family affections. She did 
not want her feeling to be the thing one was supposed to owe an uncle or a 
grandfather. She was incapable of love for any object not of her own choice 
and she resented anyone's demand for it. But had it been possible to choose 
an ancestor, she would have chosen Nat Taggart, in voluntary homage and with 
all of her gratitude. 

Nat Taggart ' s statue was copied from an artist's sketch of him, the only 
record ever made of his appearance. He had lived far into old age, but one 
could never think of him except as he was on that sketch —as a young man. In 
her childhood, his statue had been Dagny 's first concept of the exalted. When 
she was sent to church or to school, and heard people using that word, she 
thought that she knew what they meant: she thought of the statue. 

The statue was of a young man with a tall, gaunt body and an angular face. 
He held his head as if he faced a challenge and found joy in his capacity to 
meet it. All that Dagny wanted of life was contained in the desire to hold 
her head as he did. 

Tonight, she looked at the statue when she walked across the concourse. It 
was a moment's rest; it was as if a burden she could not name were lightened 
and as if a faint current of air were touching her forehead. 

In a corner of the concourse, by the main entrance, there was a small 
newsstand. The owner, a quiet, courteous old man with an air of breeding, had 
stood behind his counter for twenty years. He had owned a cigarette factory 
once, but it had gone bankrupt, and he had resigned himself to the lonely 
obscurity of his little stand in the midst of an eternal whirlpool of 
strangers. He had no family or friends left alive. 

He had a hobby which was his only pleasure: he gathered cigarettes from 
all over the world for his private collection; he knew every brand made or 
that had ever been made. 

Dagny liked to stop at his newsstand on her way out. He seemed to be part 
of the Taggart Terminal, like an old watchdog too feeble to protect it, but 
reassuring by the loyalty of his presence. He liked to see her coming, 
because it amused him to think that he alone knew the importance of the young 
woman in a sports coat and a slanting hat, who came hurrying anonymously 
through the crowd. 

She stopped tonight, as usual, to buy a package of cigarettes. "How is the 
collection?" she asked him. "Any new specimens?" 

He smiled sadly, shaking his head. "No, Miss Taggart. There aren't any new 
brands made anywhere in the world. Even the old ones are going, one after 
another. There's only five or six kinds left selling now. 

There used to be dozens. People aren't making anything new any more." 

"They will. That's only temporary." 

He glanced at her and did not answer. Then he said, "I like cigarettes, 
Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man's hand. Fire, a dangerous 
force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man 
sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great 
things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire 
alive in his mind— and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a 
cigarette as his one expression." 

"Do they ever think?" she asked involuntarily, and stopped; the question 
was her one personal torture and she did not want to discuss it. 

The old man looked as if he had noticed the sudden stop and understood it; 
but he did not start discussing it; he said, instead, "I don't like the thing 
that's happening to people, Miss Taggart." 


"I don't know. But I've watched them here for twenty years and I've seen 
the change. They used to rush through here, and it was wonderful to watch, it 
was the hurry of men who knew where they were going and were eager to get 
there. Now they're hurrying because they are afraid. 

It's not a purpose that drives them, it's fear. They're not going 
anywhere, they're escaping. And I don't think they know what it is that they 
want to escape. They don't look at one another. They jerk when brushed 
against. They smile too much, but it's an ugly kind of smiling: it's not joy, 
it's pleading. I don't know what it is that's happening to the world." He 
shrugged. "Oh well, who is John Gait?" 

"He's just a meaningless phrase!" 

She was startled by the sharpness of her own voice, and she added in 
apology, "I don't like that empty piece of slang. What does it mean? 
Where did it come from?" 
"Nobody knows," he answered slowly. 

"Why do people keep saying it? Nobody seems able to explain just what it 
stands for, yet they all use it as if they knew the meaning." 
"Why does it disturb you?" he asked. 

"I don't like what they seem to mean when they say it." 
"I don't, either, Miss Taggart." 

Eddie Willers ate his dinners in the employees' cafeteria of the Taggart 
Terminal. There was a restaurant in the building, patronized by Taggart 
executives, but he did not like it. The cafeteria seemed part of the 
railroad, and he felt more at home. 

The cafeteria lay underground. It was a large room with walls of white 
tile that glittered in the reflections of electric lights and looked like 
silver brocade. It had a high ceiling, sparkling counters of glass and 
chromium, a sense of space and light. 

There was a railroad worker whom Eddie Willers met at times in the 
cafeteria. Eddie liked his face. They had been drawn into a chance 
conversation once, and then it became their habit to dine together whenever 
they happened to meet. 

Eddie had forgotten whether he had ever asked the worker's name or the 
nature of his job; he supposed that the job wasn't much, because the man's 
clothes were rough and grease-stained. The man was not a person to him, but 
only a silent presence with an enormous intensity of interest in the one 
thing which was the meaning of his own life: in Taggart Transcontinental. 

Tonight, coming down late, Eddie saw the worker at a table in a corner of 
the half -deserted room. Eddie smiled happily, waving to him, and carried his 
tray of food to the worker's table. 

In the privacy of their corner, Eddie felt at ease, relaxing after the 
long strain of the day. He could talk as he did not talk anywhere else, 
admitting things he would not confess to anyone, thinking aloud, looking into 
the attentive eyes of the worker across the table. 

"The Rio Norte Line is our last hope," said Eddie Willers. "But it will 
save us. We'll have at least one branch in good condition, where it's needed 
most, and that will help to save the rest. . . . It's funny— 

isn't it?— to speak about a last hope for Taggart Transcontinental. Do you 
take it seriously if somebody tells you that a meteor is going to destroy the 
earth? ... I don't, either. . . . 'From Ocean to Ocean, f orever ' — that ' s 
what we heard all through our childhood, she and I. 

No, they didn't say 'forever, ' but that's what it meant. . . . You know, 
I'm not any kind of a great man. I couldn't have built that railroad. If it 
goes, I won't be able to bring it back. I'll have to go with it. . . . 

Don't pay any attention to me. I don't know why I should want to say 
things like that. Guess I'm just a little tired tonight. . . . Yes, I worked 
late. She didn't ask me to stay, but there was a light under her door, long 
after all the others had gone . . . Yes, she's gone home now. . . . 

Trouble? Oh, there's always trouble in the office. But she's not worried. 

She knows she can pull us through. ... Of course, it's bad. We're having 
many more accidents than you hear about. We lost two Diesels again, last 
week. One— just from old age, the other— in a head-on collision. . . . Yes, we 
have Diesels on order, at the United Locomotive Works, but we've waited for 
them for two years. I don't know whether we'll ever get them or not. . . . 
God, do we need them! Motive power —you can't imagine how important that is. 
That's the heart of everything. . . . What are you smiling at? . . . Well, as 
I was saying, it's bad. But at least the Rio Norte Line is set. The first 
shipment of rail will get to the site in a few weeks. In a year, we'll run 
the first train on the new track. Nothing's going to stop us, this time. . . 
. Sure, I know who's going to lay the rail. McNamara, of Cleveland. He's the 
contractor who finished the San Sebastian Line for us. There, at least, is 
one man who knows his job. So we're safe. We can count on him. There aren't 
many good contractors left. . . . We're rushed as hell, but I like it. I've 
been coming to the office an hour earlier than usual, but she beats me to it. 
She's always there first. . . . What? ... I don't know what she does at 
night. Nothing much, I guess. . . . No, she never goes out with anyone. She 
sits at home, mostly, and listens to music. She plays records. . . . What do 
you care, which records? Richard Halley. 

She loves the music of Richard Halley. Outside the railroad, that's the 
only thing she loves." 


Motive power— thought Dagny, looking up at the Taggart Building in the 
twilight— was its first need; motive power, to keep that building standing; 
movement, to keep it immovable. It did not rest on piles driven into granite 
it rested on the engines that rolled across a continent. 

She felt a dim touch of anxiety. She was back from a trip to the plant of 
the United Locomotive Works in New Jersey, where she had gone to see the 
president of the company in person. She had learned nothing: neither the 
reason for the delays nor any indication of the date when the Diesel engines 
would be produced. The president of the company had talked to her for two 
hours. But none of his answers had connected to any of her questions. His 
manner had conveyed a peculiar note of condescending reproach whenever she 
attempted to make the conversation specific, as if she were giving proof of 
ill-breeding by breaking some unwritten code known to everyone else. 

On her way through the plant, she had seen an enormous piece of machinery 
left abandoned in a corner of the yard. It had been a precision machine tool 
once, long ago, of a kind that could not be bought anywhere now. It had not 
been worn out; it had been rotted by neglect, eaten by rust and the black 
drippings of a dirty oil. She had turned her face away from it. A sight of 
that nature always blinded her for an instant by the burst of too violent an 
anger. She did not know why; she could not define her own feeling; she knew 
only that there was, in her feeling, a scream of protest against injustice, 
and that it was a response to something much beyond an old piece of 
machinery . 

The rest of her staff had gone, when she entered the anteroom of her 
office, but Eddie Willers was still there, waiting for her. She knew at once 
that something had happened, by the way he looked and the way he followed he 
silently into her office. 

"What's the matter, Eddie?" 

"McNamara quit." 

She looked at him blankly. "What do you mean, quit?" 
"Left. Retired. Went out of business." 
"McNamara, our contractor?" 

"But that's impossible!" 
"I know it." 
"What happened? Why?" 
"Nobody knows . " 

Taking her time deliberately, she unbuttoned her coat, sat down at her 
desk, started to pull off her gloves. Then she said, "Begin at the beginning 
Eddie. Sit down." 

He spoke quietly, but he remained standing. "I talked to his chief 
engineer, long distance. The chief engineer called from Cleveland, to tell 
us. That's all he said. He knew nothing else." 

"What did he say?" 

"That McNamara has closed his business and gone." 

"He doesn't know. Nobody knows." 

She noticed that she was holding with one hand two empty fingers of the 
glove of the other, the glove half-removed and forgotten. She pulled it off 
and dropped it on the desk. 

Eddie said, "He's walked out on a pile of contracts that are worth a 
fortune. He had a waiting list of clients for the next three years. . . ." 

She said nothing. He added, his voice low, "I wouldn't be frightened if I 
could understand it. . . . But a thing that can't have any possible reason . 
. ." She remained silent. "He was the best contractor in the country." 

They looked at each other. What she wanted to say was, "Oh God, Eddie!" 
Instead, her voice even, she said, "Don't worry. We'll find another 
contractor for the Rio Norte Line, " 

It was late when she left her office. Outside, on the sidewalk at the door 
of the building, she paused, looking at the streets. She felt suddenly empty 
of energy, of purpose, of desire, as if a motor had crackled and stopped. 

A faint glow streamed from behind the buildings into the sky, the 
reflection of thousands of unknown lights, the electric breath of the city. 

She wanted to rest. To rest, she thought, and to find enjoyment somewhere. 

Her work was all she had or wanted. But there were times, like tonight, 
when she felt that sudden, peculiar emptiness, which was not emptiness, but 
silence, not despair, but immobility, as if nothing within her were 
destroyed, but everything stood still. Then she felt the wish to find a 
moment's joy outside, the wish to be held as a passive spectator by some work 
or sight of greatness. Not to make it, she thought, but to accept; not to 
begin, but to respond; not to create, but to admire. I need it to let me go 
on, she thought, because joy is one's fuel. 

She had always been— she closed her eyes with a faint smile of amusement 
and pain— the motive power of her own happiness. For once, she wanted to feel 
herself carried by the power of someone else's achievement. As men on a dark 
prairie liked to see the lighted windows of a train going past, her 
achievement, the sight of power and purpose that gave them reassurance in the 
midst of empty miles and night —so she wanted to feel it for a moment, a 
brief greeting, a single glimpse, just to wave her arm and say: Someone is 
going somewhere. . . . 

She started walking slowly, her hands in the pockets of her coat, the 
shadow of her slanting hat brim across her face. The buildings around her 
rose to such heights that her glance could not find the sky. She thought: It 
has taken so much to build this city, it should have so much to offer. 

Above the door of a shop, the black hole of a radio loudspeaker was 
hurling sounds at the streets. They were the sounds of a symphony concert 
being given somewhere in the city. They were a long screech without shape, as 
of cloth and flesh being torn at random. They scattered with no melody, no 
harmony, no rhythm to hold them. If music was emotion and emotion came from 
thought, then this was the scream of chaos, of the irrational, of the 
helpless, of man's self-abdication. 

She walked on. She stopped at the window of a bookstore. The window 
displayed a pyramid of slabs in brownish-purple jackets, inscribed: The 
Vulture Is Molting. "The novel of our century," said a placard. 

"The penetrating study of a businessman's greed. A fearless revelation of 
man's depravity." 

She walked past a movie theater. Its lights wiped out half a block, 
leaving only a huge photograph and some letters suspended in blazing mid-air. 
The photograph was of a smiling young woman; looking at her face, one felt 
the weariness of having seen it for years, even while seeing it for the first 
time. The letters said: ". . . in a momentous drama giving the answer to the 
great problem: Should a woman tell?" 

She walked past the door of a night club. A couple came staggering out to 
a taxicab. The girl had blurred eyes, a perspiring face, an ermine cape and a 
beautiful evening gown that had slipped off one shoulder like a slovenly 
housewife's bathrobe, revealing too much of her breast, not in a manner of 
daring, but in the manner of a drudge's indifference. Her escort steered her, 
gripping her naked arm; his face did not have the expression of a man 

anticipating a romantic adventure, but the sly look of a boy out to write 
obscenities on fences. 

What had she hoped to find?— she thought, walking on. These were the things 
men lived by, the forms of their spirit, of their culture, of their 
enjoyment. She had seen nothing else anywhere, not for many years. 

At the corner of the street where she lived, she bought a newspaper and 
went home . 

Her apartment was two rooms on the top floor of a skyscraper. The sheets 
of glass in the corner window of her living room made it look like the prow 
of a ship in motion, and the lights of the city were like phosphorescent 
sparks on the black waves of steel and stone. When she turned on a lamp, long 
triangles of shadow cut the bare walls, in a geometrical pattern of light 
rays broken by a few angular pieces of furniture. 

She stood in the middle of the room, alone between sky and city. 

There was only one thing that could give her the feeling she wanted to 
experience tonight; it was the only form of enjoyment she had found. 

She turned to a phonograph and put on a record of the music of Richard 

It was his Fourth Concerto, the last work he had written. The crash of its 
opening chords swept the sights of the streets away from her mind. 

The Concerto was a great cry of rebellion. It was a "No" flung at some 
vast process of torture, a denial of suffering, a denial that held the agony 
of the struggle to break free. The sounds were like a voice saying: There is 
no necessity for pain— why, then, is the worst pain reserved for those who 
will not accept its necessity?— we who hold the love and the secret of joy, to 
what punishment have we been sentenced for it, and by whom? . . . The sounds 
of torture became defiance, the statement of agony became a hymn to a distant 
vision for whose sake anything was worth enduring, even this. It was the song 
of rebellion— and of a desperate quest. 

She sat still, her eyes closed, listening. 

No one knew what had happened to Richard Halley, or why. The story of his 
life had been like a summary written to damn greatness by showing the price 
one pays for it. It had been a procession of years spent in garrets and 
basements, years that had taken the gray tinge of the walls imprisoning a man 
whose music overflowed with violent color. 

It had been the gray of a struggle against long flights of unlighted 
tenement stairs, against frozen plumbing, against the price of a sandwich in 
an ill-smelling delicatessen store, against the faces of men who listened to 
music, their eyes empty. It had been a struggle without the relief of 
violence, without the recognition of finding a conscious enemy, with only a 
deaf wall to batter, a wall of the most effective soundproofing: 
indifference, that swallowed blows, chords and screams— a battle of silence, 
for a man who could give to sounds a greater eloquence than they had ever 
carried— the silence of obscurity, of loneliness, of the nights when some rare 
orchestra played one of his works and he looked at the darkness, knowing that 
his soul went in trembling, widening circles from a radio tower through the 
air of the city, but there were no receivers tuned to hear it. 

"The music of Richard Halley has a quality of the heroic. Our age has 
outgrown that stuff," said one critic. "The music of Richard Halley is out of 
key with our times. It has a tone of ecstasy. Who cares for ecstasy 
nowadays?" said another. 

His life had been a summary of the lives of all the men whose reward is a 
monument in a public park a hundred years after the time when a reward can 
matter— except that Richard Halley did not die soon enough. He lived to see 
the night which, by the accepted laws of history, he was not supposed to see. 
He was forty-three years old and it was the opening night of Phaethon, an 
opera he had written at the age of twenty-four. He had changed the ancient 

Greek myth to his own purpose and meaning: Phaethon, the young son of Helios, 
who stole his father's chariot and, in ambitious audacity, attempted to drive 
the sun across the sky, did not perish, as he perished in the myth; in 
Halley's opera, Phaethon succeeded. The opera had been performed then, 
nineteen years ago, and had closed after one performance, to the sound of 
booing and catcalls. That night, Richard Halley had walked the streets of the 
city till dawn, trying to find an answer to a question, which he did not 

On the night when the opera was presented again, nineteen years later, the 
last sounds of the music crashed into the sounds of the greatest ovation the 
opera house had ever heard. The ancient walls could not contain it, the 
sounds of cheering burst through to the lobbies, to the stairs, to the 
streets, to the boy who had walked those streets nineteen years ago. 

Dagny was in the audience on the night of the ovation. She was one of the 
few who had known the music of Richard Halley much earlier; but she had never 
seen him. She saw him being pushed out on the stage, saw him facing the 
enormous spread of waving arms and cheering heads. He stood without moving, a 
tall, emaciated man with graying hair. He did not bow, did not smile; he just 
stood there, looking at the crowd. His face had the quiet, earnest look of a 
man staring at a question. 

"The music of Richard Halley, " wrote a critic next morning, "belongs to 
mankind. It is the product and the expression of the greatness of the 
people." "There is an inspiring lesson," said a minister, "in the life of 
Richard Halley. He has had a terrible struggle, but what does that matter? It 
is proper, it is noble that he should have endured suffering, injustice, 
abuse at the hands of his brothers— in order to enrich their lives and teach 
them to appreciate the beauty of great music." 

On the day after the opening, Richard Halley retired. 

He gave no explanation. He merely told his publishers that his career was 
over. He sold them the rights to his works for a modest sum, even though he 
knew that his royalties would now bring him a fortune. He went away, leaving 
no address. It was eight years ago; no one had seen him since. 

Dagny listened to the Fourth Concerto, her head thrown back, her eyes 
closed. She lay half-stretched across the corner of a couch, her body relaxed 
and still; but tension stressed the shape of her mouth on her motionless 
face, a sensual shape drawn in lines of longing. 

After a while, she opened her eyes. She noticed the newspaper she had 
thrown down on the couch. She reached for it absently, to turn the vapid 
headlines out of sight. The paper fell open. She saw the photograph of a face 
she knew, and the heading of a story. She slammed the pages shut and flung 
them aside. 

It was the face of Francisco d'Anconia. The heading said that he had 
arrived in New York. What of it?— she thought. She would not have to see him. 
She had not seen him for years. 

She sat looking down at the newspaper on the floor. Don't read it, she 
thought; don't look at it. But the face, she thought, had not changed. 

How could a face remain the same when everything else was gone? She wished 
they had not caught a picture of him when he smiled. That kind of smile did 
not belong in the pages of a newspaper. It was the smile of a man who is able 
to see, to know and to create the glory of existence. It was the mocking, 
challenging smile of a brilliant intelligence. 

Don't read it, she thought; not now— not to that music— oh, not to that 
music ! 

She reached for the paper and opened it. 

The story said that Senor Francisco d'Anconia had granted an interview to 
the press in his suite at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel. He said that he had come 
to New York for two important reasons: a hat-check girl at the Cub Club, and 

the liverwurst at Moe ' s Delicatessen on Third Avenue. He had nothing to say 
about the coming divorce trial of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Vail. Mrs. Vail, a 
lady of noble breeding and unusual loveliness, had taken a shot at her 
distinguished young husband, some months ago, publicly declaring that she 
wished to get rid of him for the sake of her lover, Francisco d'Anconia. She 
had given to the press a detailed account of her secret romance, including a 
description of the night of last New Year's Eve which she had spent at 
d'Anconia 's villa in the Andes. Her husband had survived the shot and had 
sued for divorce. 

She had countered with a suit for half of her husband's millions, and with 
a recital of his private life which, she said, made hers look innocent. 

All of that had been splashed over the newspapers for weeks. But Senor 
d'Anconia had nothing to say about it, when the reporters questioned him. 
Would he deny Mrs. Vail's story, they asked. "I never deny anything," he 
answered. The reporters had been astonished by his sudden arrival in town; 
they had thought that he would not wish to be there just when the worst of 
the scandal was about to explode on the front pages. But they had been wrong. 
Francisco d'Anconia added one more comment to the reasons for his arrival. "I 
wanted to witness the farce, " 

he said. 

Dagny let the paper slip to the floor. She sat, bent over, her head on her 
arms. She did not move, but the strands of hair, hanging down to her knees, 
trembled in sudden jolts once in a while. 

The great chords of Halley's music went on, filling the room, piercing the 
glass of the windows, streaming out over the city. She was hearing the music. 
It was her quest, her cry. 

James Taggart glanced about the living room of his apartment, wondering 
what time it was; he did not feel like moving to find his watch. 

He sat in an armchair, dressed in wrinkled pajamas, barefooted; it was too 
much trouble to look for his slippers. The light of the gray sky in the 
windows hurt his eyes, still sticky with sleep. He felt, inside his skull, 
the nasty heaviness which is about to become a headache. He wondered angrily 
why he had stumbled out into the living room. Oh yes, he remembered, to look 
for the time. 

He slumped sidewise over the arm of the chair and caught sight of a clock 
on a distant building: it was twenty minutes past noon. 

Through the open door of the bedroom, he heard Betty Pope washing her 
teeth in the bathroom beyond. Her girdle lay on the floor, by the side of a 
chair with the rest of her clothes; the girdle was a faded pink, with broken 
strands of rubber. 

"Hurry up, will you?" he called irritably. "I've got to dress," 

She did not answer. She had left the door of the bathroom open; he could 
hear the sound of gargling. 

Why do I do those things?— he thought, remembering last night. But it was 
too much trouble to look for an answer. 

Betty Pope came into the living room, dragging the folds of a satin 
negligee harlequin-checkered in orange and purple. She looked awful in a 
negligee, thought Taggart; she was ever so much better in a riding habit, in 
the photographs on the society pages of the newspapers. She was a lanky girl, 
all bones and loose joints that did not move smoothly. 

She had a homely face, a bad complexion and a look of impertinent 
condescension derived from the fact that she belonged to one of the very best 
families . 

"Aw, hell!" she said at nothing in particular, stretching herself to 
limber up. "Jim, where are your nail clippers? I've got to trim my toenails." 
"I don't know. I have a headache. Do it at home." 

"You look unappetizing in the morning." she said indifferently. "You look 
like a snail . " 

"Why don't you shut up?" 

She wandered aimlessly about the room. "I don't want to go home," 

she said with no particular feeling. "I hate morning. Here's another day 
and nothing to do. I've got a tea session on for this afternoon, at Liz 
Blane's. Oh well, it might be fun, because Liz is a bitch." She picked up a 
glass and swallowed the stale remnant of a drink. "Why don't you have them 
repair your air-conditioner? This place smells." 

"Are you through in the bathroom?" he asked. "I have to dress. I have an 
important engagement today." 

"Go right in. I don't mind. I'll share the bathroom with you. I hate to be 
rushed . " 

While he shaved, he saw her dressing in front of the open bathroom door. 
She took a long time twisting herself into her girdle, hooking garters to her 
stockings, pulling on an ungainly, expensive tweed suit. 

The harlequin negligee, picked from an advertisement in the smartest 
fashion magazine, was like a uniform which she knew to be expected on certain 
occasions, which she had worn dutifully for a specified purpose and then 
discarded . 

The nature of their relationship had the same quality. There was no 
passion in it, no desire, no actual pleasure, not even a sense of shame. 

To them, the act of sex was neither joy nor sin. It meant nothing. They 
had heard that men and women were supposed to sleep together, so they did. 

"Jim, why don't you take me to the Armenian restaurant tonight?" 

she asked. "I love shish-kebab . " 

"I can't," he answered angrily through the soap lather on his face. 
"I've got a busy day ahead." 
"Why don't you cancel it?" 

"Whatever it is." 

"It is very important, my dear. It is a meeting of our Board of 
Directors . " 

"Oh, don't be stuffy about your damn railroad. It's boring. I hate 
businessmen. They're dull." 
He did not answer. 

She glanced at him slyly, and her voice acquired a livelier note when she 
drawled, "Jock Benson said that you have a soft snap on that railroad anyway, 
because it's your sister who runs the whole works." 

"Oh, he did, did he?" 

"I think that your sister is awful. I think it's disgusting— a woman acting 
like a grease-monkey and posing around like a big executive. It's so 
unfeminine. Who does she think she is, anyway?" 

Taggart stepped out to the threshold. He leaned against the doorjamb, 
studying Betty Pope. There was a faint smile on his face, sarcastic and 
confident. They had, he thought, a bond in common. 

"It might interest you to know, my dear," he said, "that I'm putting the 
skids under my sister this afternoon." 

"No?" she said, interested. "Really?" 

"And that is why this Board meeting is so important." 
"Are you really going to kick her out?" 

"No. That's not necessary or advisable. I shall merely put her in her 
place. It's the chance I've been waiting for." 
"You got something on her? Some scandal?" 

"No, no. You wouldn't understand. It's merely that she's gone too far, for 
once, and she's going to get slapped down. She's pulled an inexcusable sort 
of stunt, without consulting anybody. It's a serious offense against our 

Mexican neighbors. When the Board hears about it, they'll pass a couple of 
new rulings on the Operating Department, which will make my sister a little 
easier to manage." 

"You're smart, Jim," she said. 

"I'd better get dressed." He sounded pleased. He turned back to the 
washbowl, adding cheerfully, "Maybe I will take you out tonight and buy you 
some shish-kebab . " 

The telephone rang. 

He lifted the receiver. The operator announced a long-distance call from 
Mexico City. 

The hysterical voice that came on the wire was that of his political man 
in Mexico. 

"I couldn't help it, Jim!" it gulped. "I couldn't help it! . . . We had no 
warning, I swear to God, nobody suspected, nobody saw it coming, I've done my 
best, you can't blame me, Jim, it was a bolt out of the blue! The decree came 
out this morning, just five minutes ago, they sprang it on us like that, 
without any notice! The government of the People's State of Mexico has 
nationalized the San Sebastian Mines and the San Sebastian Railroad." 

". . . and, therefore, I can assure the gentlemen of the Board that there 
is no occasion for panic. The event of this morning is a regrettable 
development, but I have full confidence— based on my knowledge of the inner 
processes shaping our foreign policy in Washington— that our government will 
negotiate an equitable settlement with the government of the People's State 
of Mexico, and that we will receive full and just compensation for our 
property . " 

James Taggart stood at the long table, addressing the Board of Directors. 
His voice was precise and monotonous; it connoted safety. 

"I am glad to report, however, that I foresaw the possibility of such a 
turn of events and took every precaution to protect the interests of Taggart 
Transcontinental. Some months ago, I instructed our Operating Department to 
cut the schedule on the San Sebastian Line down to a single train a day, and 
to remove from it our best motive power and rolling stock, as well as every 
piece of equipment that could be moved. 

The Mexican government was able to seize nothing but a few wooden cars and 
one superannuated locomotive. My decision has saved the company many millions 
of dollars— I shall have the exact figures computed and submit them to you. I 
do feel, however, that our stockholders will be justified in expecting that 
those who bore the major responsibility for this venture should now bear the 
consequences of their negligence. I would suggest, therefore, that we request 
the resignation of Mr. Clarence Eddington, our economic consultant, who 
recommended the construction of the San Sebastian Line, and of Mr. Jules 
Mott, our representative in Mexico City." 

The men sat around the long table, listening. They did not think of what 
they would have to do, but of what they would have to say to the men they 
represented. Taggart ' s speech gave them what they needed. 

Orren Boyle was waiting for him, when Taggart returned to his office. Once 
they were alone, Taggart ' s manner changed. He leaned against the desk, 
sagging, his face loose and white. 

"Well?" he asked. 

Boyle spread his hands out helplessly. "I've checked, Jim," he said. 

"It's straight all right; d'Anconia's lost fifteen million dollars of his 
own money in those mines. No, there wasn't anything phony about that, he 
didn't pull any sort of trick, he put up his own cash and now he's lost it." 

"Well, what's he going to do about it?" 

"That- I don't know. Nobody does." 

"He's not going to let himself be robbed, is he? He's too smart for that. 
He must have something up his sleeve." 

"I sure hope so." 

"He's outwitted some of the slickest combinations of money-grubbers on 
earth. Is he going to be taken by a bunch of Greaser politicians with a 
decree? He must have something on them, and he'll get the last word, and we 
must be sure to be in on it, too!" 

"That's up to you, Jim. You're his friend." 

"Friend be damned! I hate his guts." 

He pressed a button for his secretary. The secretary entered uncertainly, 
looking unhappy; he was a young man, no longer too young, with a bloodless 
face and the well-bred manner of genteel poverty. 

"Did you get me an appointment with Francisco d'Anconia?" snapped Taggart. 

"No, sir." 

"But, God damn it, I told you to call the—" 
"I wasn't able to, sir. I have tried." 
"Well, try again." 

"I mean I wasn't able to obtain the appointment, Mr. Taggart." 

"Why not?" 

"He declined it." 

"You mean he refused to see me?" 

"Yes, sir, that is what I mean." 

"He wouldn't see me?" 

"No, sir, he wouldn't." 

"Did you speak to him in person?" 

"No, sir, I spoke to his secretary." 

"What did he tell you? Just what did he say?" The young man hesitated and 
looked more unhappy. "What did he say?" 

"He said that Senior d'Anconia said that you bore him, Mr. Taggart." 

The proposal which they passed was known as the "Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule." 
When they voted for it, the members of the National Alliance of Railroads sat 
in a large hall in the deepening twilight of a late autumn evening and did 
not look at one another. 

The National Alliance of Railroads was an organization formed, it was 
claimed, to protect the welfare of the railroad industry. This was to be 
achieved by developing methods of co-operation for a common purpose; this was 
to be achieved by the pledge of every member to subordinate his own interests 
to those of the industry as a whole; the interests of the industry as a whole 
were to be determined by a majority vote, and every member was committed to 
abide by any decision the majority chose to make. 

"Members of the same profession or of the same industry should stick 
together," the organizers of the Alliance had said. "We all have the same 
problems, the same interests, the same enemies. We waste our energy fighting 
one another, instead of presenting a common front to the world. 

We can all grow and prosper together, if we pool our efforts." "Against 
whom is this Alliance being organized?" a skeptic had asked. The answer had 
been: "Why, it's not 'against' anybody. But if you want to put it that way, 
why, it's against shippers or supply manufacturers or anyone who might try to 
take advantage of us. Against whom is any union organized?" "That's what I 
wonder about," the skeptic had said. 

When the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule was offered to the vote of the full 
membership of the National Alliance of Railroads at its annual meeting, it 
was the first mention of this Rule in public. But all the members had heard 
of it; it had been discussed privately for a long tune, and more insistently 
in the last few months. The men who sat in the large hall of the meeting were 
the presidents of the railroads. They did not like the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule; 
they had hoped it would never be brought up. 

But when it was brought up, they voted for it. 

No railroad was mentioned by name in the speeches that preceded the 
voting. The speeches dealt only with the public welfare. It was said that 
while the public welfare was threatened by shortages of transportation, 
railroads were destroying one another through vicious competition, on "the 
brutal policy of dog-eat-dog . " While there existed blighted areas where rail 
service had been discontinued, there existed at the same time large regions 
where two or more railroads were competing for a traffic barely sufficient 
for one. It was said that there were great opportunities for younger 
railroads in the blighted areas. While it was true that such areas offered 
little economic incentive at present, a public-spirited railroad, it was 
said, would undertake to provide transportation for the struggling 
inhabitants, since the prime purpose of a railroad was public service, not 
profit . 

Then it was said that large, established railroad systems were essential 
to the public welfare; and that the collapse of one of them would be a 
national catastrophe; and that if one such system had happened to sustain a 
crushing loss in a public-spirited attempt to contribute to international 
good will, it was entitled to public support to help it survive the blow. 

No railroad was mentioned by name. But when the chairman of the meeting 
raised his hand, as a solemn signal that they were about to vote, everybody 
looked at Dan Conway, president of the Phoenix-Durango . 

There were only five dissenters who voted against it. Yet when the 
chairman announced that the measure had passed, there was no cheering, no 
sounds of approval, no movement, nothing but a heavy silence. 

To the last minute, every one of them had hoped that someone would save 
them from it. 

The Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule was described as a measure of "voluntary self- 
regulation" intended "the better to enforce" the laws long since passed by 
the country's Legislature. The Rule provided that the members of the National 
Alliance of Railroads were forbidden to engage in practices defined as 
"destructive competition"; that in regions declared to be restricted, no more 
than one railroad would be permitted to operate; that in such regions, 
seniority belonged to the oldest railroad now operating there, and that the 
newcomers, who had encroached unfairly upon its territory, would suspend 
operations within nine months after being so ordered; that the Executive 
Board of the National Alliance of Railroads was empowered to decide, at its 
sole discretion, which regions were to be restricted. 

When the meeting adjourned, the men hastened to leave. There were no 
private discussions, no friendly loitering. The great hall became deserted in 
an unusually short time. Nobody spoke to or looked at Dan Conway. 

In the lobby of the building, James Taggart met Orren Boyle. They had made 
no appointment to meet, but Taggart saw a bulky figure outlined against a 
marble wall and knew who it was before he saw the face. They approached each 
other, and Boyle said, his smile less soothing than usual, "I've delivered. 
Your turn now, Jimmie." "You didn't have to come here. Why did you?" said 
Taggart sullenly. "Oh, just for the fun of it," said Boyle. 

Dan Conway sat alone among rows of empty seats. He was still! 

there when the charwoman came to clean the hall. When she hailed him, he 
rose obediently and shuffled to the door. Passing her in the aisle, he 
fumbled in his pocket and handed her a five dollar bill, silently, meekly, 
not looking at her face. He did not seem to know what he was doing; he acted 
as if he thought that he was in some place where generosity demanded that he 
give a tip before leaving. 

Dagny was still at her desk when the door of her office flew open and 
James Taggart rushed in. It was the first time he had ever entered in such 
manner. His face looked feverish. 

She had not seen him since the nationalization of the San Sebastian Line. 
He had not sought to discuss it with her, and she had said nothing about it. 
She had been proved right so eloquently, she had thought, that comments were 
unnecessary. A feeling which was part courtesy, part mercy had stopped her 
from stating to him the conclusion to be drawn from the events. In all reason 
and justice, there was but one conclusion he could draw. She had heard about 
his speech to the Board of Directors. She had shrugged, contemptuously 
amused; if it served his purpose, whatever that was, to appropriate her 
achievements, then, for his own advantage, if for no other reason, he would 
leave her free to achieve, from now on. 

"So you think you're the only one who's doing anything for this railroad?" 

She looked at Mm, bewildered. His voice was shrill; he stood in front of 
her desk, tense with excitement. 

"So you think that I've ruined the company, don't you?" he yelled. 

"And now you're the only one who can save us? Think I have no way to make 
up for the Mexican loss?" 

She asked slowly, "What do you want?" 

"I want to tell you some news. Do you remember the Anti-dog-eat dog 
proposal of the Railroad Alliance that I told you about months ago? 
You didn't like the idea. You didn't like it at all." 
"I remember. What about it?" 
"It has been passed." 
"What has been passed?" 

"The Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule. Just a few minutes ago. At the meeting. 
Nine months from now, there's not going to be any Phoenix-Durango Railroad 
in Colorado ! " 

A glass ashtray crashed to the floor off the desk, as she leaped to her 
feet . 

"You rotten bastards ! " 

He stood motionless. He was smiling. 

She knew that she was shaking, open to him, without defense, and that this 
was the sight he enjoyed, but it did not matter to her. Then she saw his 
smile— and suddenly the blinding anger vanished. She felt nothing. She studied 
that smile with a cold, impersonal curiosity. 

They stood facing each other. He looked as if, for the first time, he was 
not afraid of her. He was gloating. The event meant something to him much 
beyond the destruction of a competitor. It was not a victory over Dan Conway, 
but over her. She did not know why or in what manner, but she felt certain 
that he knew. 

For the flash of one instant, she thought that here, before her, in James 
Taggart and in that which made him smile, was a secret she had never 
suspected, and it was crucially important that she learn to understand it. 
But the thought flashed and vanished. 

She whirled to the door of a closet and seized her coat. 

"Where are you going?" Taggart ' s voice had dropped; it sounded 
disappointed and faintly worried. 

She did not answer. She rushed out of the office. 

"Dan, you have to fight them. I'll help you. I'll fight for you with 
everything I've got." 

Dan Conway shook his head. 

He sat at his desk, the empty expanse of a faded blotter before him, one 
feeble lamp lighted in a corner of the room. Dagny had rushed straight to the 
city office of the Phoenix-Durango. Conway was there, and he still sat as she 
had found him. He had smiled at her entrance and said, "Funny, I thought you 
would come," his voice gentle, lifeless. 

They did not know each other well, but they had met a few times in 
Colorado . 

"No," he said, "it's no use." 

"Do you mean because of that Alliance agreement that you signed? 

It won't hold. This is plain expropriation. No court will uphold it. And 
if Jim tries to hide behind the usual looters' slogan of 'public welfare, ' 

I'll go on the stand and swear that Taggart Transcontinental can't handle 
the whole traffic of Colorado, And if any court rules against you, you can 
appeal and keep on appealing for the next ten years." 

"Yes," he said, "I could . . .I'm not sure I'd win, but I could try and I 
could hang onto the railroad for a few years longer, but . . . No, it's not 
the legal points that I'm thinking about, one way or the other. It's not 
that. " 

"What, then?" 

"I don't want to fight it, Dagny." 

She looked at him incredulously. It was the one sentence which, she felt 
sure, he had never uttered before; a man could not reverse himself so late in 

Dan Conway was approaching fifty. He had the square, stolid, stubborn face 
of a tough freight engineer, rather than a company president; the face of a 
fighter, with a young, tanned skin and graying hair. He had taken over a 
shaky little railroad in Arizona, a road whose net revenue was "less than 
that of a successful grocery store, and he had built it into the best 
railroad of the Southwest. He spoke little, seldom read books, had never gone 
to college. The whole sphere of human endeavors, with one exception, left him 
blankly indifferent; he had no touch of that which people called culture. But 
he knew railroads. 

"Why don't you want to fight?" 

"Because they had the right to do it." 

"Dan," she asked, "have you lost your mind?" 

"I've never gone back on my word in my life," he said tonelessly. "I don't 
care what the courts decide. I promised to obey the majority. I have to 
obey. " 

"Did you expect the majority to do this to you?" 

"No." There was a kind of faint convulsion in the stolid face. He spoke 
softly, not looking at her, the helpless astonishment still raw within him. 
"No, I didn't expect it. I heard them talking about it for over a year, but I 
didn't believe it. Even when they were voting, I didn't believe it." 

"What did you expect?" 

"I thought . . . They said all of us were to stand for the common good. I 
thought what I had done down there in Colorado was good. 
Good for everybody." 

"Oh, you damn fool! Don't you see that that's what you're being punished 
for— because it was good?" 

He shook his head. "I don't understand it," he said. "But I see no way 
out . " 

"Did you promise them to agree to destroy yourself?" 
"There doesn't seem to be any choice for any of us." 
"What do you mean?" 

"Dagny, the whole world's in a terrible state right now. I don't know 
what's wrong with it, but something's very wrong. Men have to get together 
and find a way out. But who's to decide which way to take, unless it's the 
majority? I guess that's the only fair method of deciding, I don't see any 
other. I suppose somebody's got to be sacrificed. If it turned out to be me, 
I have no right to complain. The right's on their side. Men have to get 
together . " 

She made an effort to speak calmly; she was trembling with anger. 

"If that's the price of getting together, then I'll be damned if I want to 
live on the same earth with any human beings! If the rest of them can survive 
only by destroying us, then why should we wish them to survive? 

Nothing can make self-immolation proper. Nothing can give them the right 
to turn men into sacrificial animals. Nothing can make it moral to destroy 
the best. One can't be punished for being good. One can't be penalized for 
ability. If that is right, then we'd better start slaughtering one another, 
because there isn't any right at all in the world!" 

He did not answer. He looked at her helplessly. 

"If it's that kind of world, how can we live in it?" she asked. 
"I don't know . . ."he whispered. 

"Dan, do you really think it's right? In all truth, deep down, do you 
think it's right?" 

He closed his eyes. "No," he said. Then he looked at her and she saw a 
look of torture for the first time. "That's what I've been sitting here 
trying to understand. I know that I ought to think it's right— but I can't. 
It's as if my tongue wouldn't turn to say it. I keep seeing every tie of the 
track down there, every signal light, every bridge, every night that I spent 
when . . ." His head dropped down on his arms. "Oh God, it's so damn unjust!" 

"Dan," she said through her teeth, "fight it." 

He raised his head. His eyes were empty. "No," he said. "It would be 
wrong- I'm just selfish." 

"Oh, damn that rotten tripe! You know better than that!" 

"I don't know . . ." His voice was very tired. "I've been sitting here, 
trying to think about it ... I don't know what is right any more. . . ." 

He added, "I don't think I care." 

She knew suddenly that all further words were useless and that Dan Conway 
would never be a man of action again. She did not know what made her certain 
of it. She said, wondering, "You've never given up in the face of a battle 
before . " 

"No, I guess I haven't. . . ."He spoke with a quiet, indifferent 
astonishment. "I've fought storms and floods and rock slides and rail 
fissure. ... I knew how to do it, and I liked doing it. . . . But this kind 
of battle— it's one I can't fight." 


"I don't know. Who knows why the world is what it if-? Oh, who is John 

She winced. "Then what are you going to do?" 
"I don't know . . . 
"I mean—" She stopped. 

He knew what she meant. "Oh, there's always something to do. . . ." 

He spoke without conviction. "I guess it's only Colorado and New Mexico 
that they're going to declare restricted. I'll still have the line in Arizona 
to run." He added, "As it was twenty years ago . . . 

Well, it will keep me busy. I'm getting tired, Dagny. I didn't take time 
to notice it, but I guess I am." 

She could say nothing. 

"I'm not going to build a line through one of their blighted areas," 

he said in the same indifferent voice. "That's what they tried to hand me 
for a consolation prize, but I think it's just talk. You can't build a 
railroad where there's nothing for hundreds of miles but a couple of farmers 
who ' re not growing enough to feed themselves. You can't build a road and make 
it pay. If you don't make it pay, who's going to? It doesn't make sense to 
me. They just didn't know what they were saying." 

"Oh, to hell with their blighted areas! It's you I'm thinking about." 

She had to name it. "What will you do with yourself?" 

"I don't know . . . Well, there's a lot of things I haven't had time to 
do. Fishing, for instance. I've always liked fishing. Maybe I'll start 
reading books, always meant to. Guess I'll take it easy now. Guess I'll go 
fishing. There's some nice places down in Arizona, where it's peaceful and 
quiet and you don't have to see a human being for miles. . . ." 

He glanced up at her and added, "Forget it. Why should you worry about 

"It's not about you, it's . . . Dan," she said suddenly, "I hope you know 
it's not for your sake that I wanted to help you fight." 

He smiled; it was a faint, friendly smile. "I know," he said. 

"It's not out of pity or charity or any ugly reason like that. Look, I 
intended to give you the battle of your life, down there in Colorado. 

I intended to cut into your business and squeeze you to the wall and drive 
you out, if necessary, " 

He chuckled faintly; it was appreciation. "You would have made a pretty 
good try at it, too," he said. 

"Only I didn't think it would be necessary. I thought there was enough 
room there for both of us." 

"Yes," he said. "There was." 

"Still, if I found that there wasn't, I would have fought you, and if I 
could make my road better than yours, I'd have broken you and not given a 
damn about what happened to you. But this . . . Dan, I don't think I want to 
look at our Rio Norte Line now. I ... Oh God, Dan, I don't want to be a 
looter ! " 

He looked at her silently for a moment. It was an odd look, as if from a 
great distance. He said softly, "You should have been born about a hundred 
years earlier, kid. Then you would have had a chance." 

"To hell with that. I intend to make my own chance." 

"That's what I intended at your age." 

"You succeeded." 

"Have I?" 

She sat still, suddenly unable to move. 

He sat up straight and said sharply, almost as if he were issuing orders, 
"You'd better look at that Rio Norte Line of yours, and you'd better do it 
fast. Get it ready before I move out, because if you don't, that will be the 
end of Ellis Wyatt and all the rest of them down there, and they're the best 
people left in the country. You can't let that happen. It's all on your 
shoulders now. It would be no use trying to explain to your brother that it's 
going to be much tougher for you down there without me to compete with. But 
you and I know it. So go to it. Whatever you do, you won't be a looter. No 
looter could run a railroad in that part of the country and last at it. 
Whatever you make down there, you will have earned it. Lice like your brother 
don't count, anyway. It's up to you now." 

She sat looking at him, wondering what it was that had defeated a man of 
this kind; she knew that it was not James Taggart. 

She saw him looking at her, as if he were struggling with a question mark 
of his own. Then he smiled, and she saw, incredulously, that the smile held 
sadness and pity. 

"You'd better not feel sorry for me," he said. "I think, of the two of us, 
it's you who have the harder time ahead. And I think you're going to get it 
worse than I did." 

She had telephoned the mills and made an appointment to see Hank Rearden 
that afternoon. She had just hung up the receiver and was bending over the 
maps of the Rio Norte Line spread on her desk, when the door opened. Dagny 
looked up, startled; she did not expect the door of her office to open 
without announcement. 

The man who entered was a stranger. He was young, tall, and something 
about him suggested violence, though she could not say what it was, because 
the first trait one grasped about him was a quality of self-control that 
seemed almost arrogant. He had dark eyes, disheveled hair, and his clothes 
were expensive, but worn as if he did not care or notice what he wore. 

"Ellis Wyatt, " he said in self -introduction . 

She leaped to her feet, involuntarily. She understood why nobody had or 
could have stopped him in the outer office. 
"Sit down, Mr. Wyatt," she said, smiling. 

"It won't be necessary." He did not smile. "I don't hold long 
conferences . " 

Slowly, taking her time by conscious intention, she sat down and leaned 
back, looking at him. 
"Well?" she asked. 

"I came to see you because I understand you're the only one who's got any 
brains in this rotten outfit." 
"What can I do for you?" 

"You can listen to an ultimatum." He spoke distinctly, giving an unusual 
clarity to every syllable. "I expect Taggart Transcontinental, nine months 
from now, to run trains in Colorado as my business requires them to be run. 
If the snide stunt you people perpetrated on the Phoenix-Durango was done for 
the purpose of saving yourself from the necessity of effort, this is to give 
you notice that you will not get away with it. I made no demands on you when 
you could not give me the kind of service I needed. I found someone who 
could. Now you wish to force me to deal with you. You expect to dictate terms 
by leaving me no choice. You expect me to hold my business down to the level 
of your incompetence. This is to tell you that you have miscalculated." 

She said slowly, with effort, "Shall I tell you what I intend to do about 
our service in Colorado?" 

"No. I have no interest in discussions and intentions. I expect 
transportation. What you do to furnish it and how you do it, is your problem, 
not mine. I am merely giving you a warning. Those who wish to deal with me, 
must do so on my terms or not at all. I do not make terms with incompetence. 
If you expect to earn money by carrying the oil I produce, you must be as 
good at your business as I am at mine. I wish this to be understood." 

She said quietly, "I understand." 

"I shan't waste time proving to you why you'd better take my ultimatum 
seriously. If you have the intelligence to keep this corrupt organization 
functioning at all, you have the intelligence to judge this for yourself. We 
both know that if Taggart Transcontinental runs trains in Colorado the way it 
did five years ago, it will ruin me. I know that that is what you people 
intend to do. You expect to feed off me while you can and to find another 
carcass to pick dry after you have finished mine. That is the policy of most 
of mankind today. So here is my ultimatum: it is now in your power to destroy 
me; I may have to go; but if I go, I'll make sure that I take all the rest of 
you along with me." 

Somewhere within her, under the numbness that held her still to receive 
the lashing, she felt a small point of pain, hot like the pain of scalding. 
She wanted to tell him of the years she had spent looking for men such as he 
to work with; she wanted to tell him that his enemies were hers, that she was 
fighting the same battle; she wanted to cry to him: I'm not one of them! But 
she knew that she could not do it. She bore the responsibility for Taggart 
Transcontinental and for everything done in its name; she had no right to 
justify herself now. 

Sitting straight, her glance as steady and open as his, she answered 
evenly, "You will get the transportation you need, Mr. Wyatt." 

She saw a faint hint of astonishment in his face; this was not the manner 
or the answer he had expected; perhaps it was what she had not said that 
astonished him most: that she offered no defense, no excuses. He took a 
moment to study her silently. Then he said, his voice less sharp: "All right. 
Thank you. Good day." 

She inclined her head. He bowed and left the office. 

"That's the story, Hank. I had worked out an almost impossible schedule to 
complete the Rio Norte Line in twelve months. Now I'll have to do it in nine. 
You were to give us the rail over a period of one year. Can you give it to us 
within nine months? If there's any human way to do it, do it. If not, I'll 
have to find some other means to finish it." 

Rearden sat behind his desk. His cold, blue eyes made two horizontal cuts 
across the gaunt planes of his face; they remained horizontal, impassively 
half-closed; he said evenly, without emphasis: 'I'll do it." 

Dagny leaned back in her chair. The short sentence was a shock. It was not 
merely relief: it was the sudden realization that nothing else was necessary 
to guarantee that it would be done; she needed no proofs, no questions, no 
explanations; a complex problem could rest safely on three syllables 
pronounced by a man who knew what he was saying. 

"Don't show that you're relieved." His voice was mocking. "Not too 
obviously." His narrowed eyes were watching her with an unrevealing smile. "I 
might think that I hold Taggart Transcontinental in my power, " 

"You know that, anyway." 

"I do. And I intend to make you pay for it." 
"I expect to. How much?" 

"Twenty dollars extra per ton on the balance of the order delivered after 
today. " 

"Pretty steep, Hank. Is that the best price you can give me?" 
"No. But that's the one I'm going to get. I could ask twice that and you'd 
pay it." 

"Yes., I would. And you could. But you won't." 
"Why won't I?" 

"Because you need to have the Rio Norte Line built. It's your first 
showcase for Rearden Metal." 

He chuckled. "That's right. I like to deal with somebody who has no 
illusions about getting favors." 

"Do you know what made me feel relieved, when you decided to take 
advantage of it?" 


"That I was dealing, for once, with somebody who doesn't pretend to give 
favors . " 

His smile had a discernible quality now: it was enjoyment. "You always 
play it open, don't you?" he asked. 

"I've never noticed you doing otherwise." 

"I thought I was the only one who could afford to." 

"I'm not broke, in that sense, Hank." 

"I think I'm going to break you some day— in that sense." 

"I've always wanted to." 

"Don't you have enough cowards around you?" 

"That's why I'd enjoy trying it— because you're the only exception. 

So you think it's right that I should squeeze every penny of profit I can, 
out of your emergency?" 

"Certainly. I'm not a fool. I don't think you're in business for my 
convenience . " 

"Don't you wish I were?" 

"I'm not a moocher, Hank." 

"Aren't you going to find it hard to pay?" 
"That's my problem, not yours. I want that rail." 
"At twenty dollars extra per ton?" 
"Okay, Hank." 

"Fine. You'll get the rail. I may get my exorbitant profit— or Taggart 
Transcontinental may crash before I collect it." 

She said, without smiling, "If I don't get that line built in nine months 
Taggart Transcontinental will crash." 

"It won't, so long as you run it," 

When he did not smile, his face looked inanimate, only his eyes remained 
alive, active with a cold, brilliant clarity of perception. But what he was 
made to feel by the things he perceived, no one would be permitted to know, 
she thought, perhaps not even himself. 

"They've done their best to make it harder for you, haven't they?" he 

"Yes. I was counting on Colorado to save the Taggart system. Now it's up 
to me to save Colorado. Nine months from now, Dan Conway will close his road 
If mine isn't ready, it won't be any use finishing it. 

You can't leave those men without transportation for a single day, let 
alone a week or a month. At the rate they've been growing, you can't stop 
them dead and then expect them to continue. It's like slamming brakes on an 
engine going two hundred miles an hour." 

"I know." 

"I can run a good railroad. I can't run it across a continent of 
sharecroppers who ' re not good enough to grow turnips successfully. I've got 
to have men like Ellis Wyatt to produce something to fill the trains I run. 
So I've got to give him a train and a track nine months from now, if I have 
to blast all the rest of us into hell to do it!" 

He smiled, amused. "You feel very strongly about it, don't you?" 

"Don't you?" 

He would not answer, but merely held the smile. 

"Aren't you concerned about it?" she asked, almost angrily. 

"No . " 

"Then you don't realize what it means?" 

"I realize that I'm going to get the rail rolled and you're going to get 
the track laid in nine months." 

She smiled, relaxing, wearily and a little guiltily. "Yes. I know we will 
I know it's useless— getting angry at people like Jim and his friends. We 
haven't any time for it. First, I have to undo what they've done. Then 
afterwards"— she stopped, wondering, shook her head and shrugged— "afterwards , 
they won't matter." 

"That's right. They won't. When I heard about that Anti-dog-eat-dog 
business, it made me sick. But don't worry about the goddamn bastards." 

The two words sounded shockingly violent, because his face and voice 
remained calm. "You and I will always be there to save the country from the 
consequences of their actions." He got up; he said, pacing the office, 
"Colorado isn't going to be stopped. You'll pull it through. Then Dan Conway 
will be back, and others. All that lunacy is temporary. ]t can't last. It's 
demented, so it has to defeat itself. You and I will just have to work a 
little harder for a while, that's all." 

She watched his tall figure moving across the office. The office suited 
him; it contained nothing but the few pieces of furniture he needed, all of 
them harshly simplified down to their essential purpose, all of them 
exorbitantly expensive in the quality of materials and the skill of design. 

The room looked like a motor— a motor held within the glass case of broad 
windows. But she noticed one astonishing detail: a vase of jade that stood o 
top of a filing cabinet. The vase was a solid, dark green stone carved into 

plain surfaces; the texture of its smooth curves provoked an irresistible 
desire to touch it. It seemed startling in that office, incongruous with the 
sternness of the rest: it was a touch of sensuality. 

"Colorado is a great place," he said. "It's going to be the greatest in 
the country. You're not sure that I'm concerned about it? That state's 
becoming one of my best customers, as you ought to know if you take time to 
read the reports on your freight traffic." 

"I know. I read them." 

"I've been thinking of building a plant there in a few years. To save them 
your transportation charges." He glanced at her. "You'll lose an awful lot of 
steel freight, if I do." 

"Go ahead. I'll be satisfied with carrying your supplies, and the 
groceries for your workers, and the freight of the factories that will follow 
you there— and perhaps I won't have time to notice that I've lost your steel. 
. . . What are you laughing at?" 

"It's wonderful." 


"The way you don't react as everybody else does nowadays." 
"Still, I must admit that for the time being you're the most important 
single shipper of Taggart Transcontinental." 
"Don't you suppose I know it?" 

"So I can't understand why Jim—" She stopped. 

"—tries his best to harm my business? Because your brother Jim is a fool." 
"He is. But it's more than that. There's something worse than stupidity 
about it." 

"Don't waste time trying to figure him out. Let him spit. He's no danger 
to anyone. People like Jim Taggart just clutter up the world." 
"I suppose so." 

"Incidentally, what would you have done if I'd said I couldn't deliver 
your rails sooner?" 

"I would have torn up sidings or closed some branch line, any branch line, 
and I would have used the rail to finish the Rio Norte track on time." 

He chuckled. "That's why I'm not worried about Taggart Transcontinental. 
But you won't have to start getting rail out of old sidings. Not so long as 
I'm in business." 

She thought suddenly that she was wrong about his lack of emotion: the 
hidden undertone of his manner was enjoyment. She realized that she had 
always felt a sense of light-hearted relaxation in his presence and known 
that he shared it. He was the only man she knew to whom she could speak 
without strain or effort. This, she thought, was a mind she respected, an 
adversary worth matching. Yet there had always been an odd sense of distance 
between them, the sense of a closed door; there was an impersonal quality in 
his manner, something within him that could not be reached. 

He had stopped at the window. He stood for a moment, looking out. "Do you 
know that the first load of rail is being delivered to you today?" he asked, 
"Of course I know it." 

"Come here." 

She approached him. He pointed silently. Far in the distance, beyond the 
mill structures, she saw a string of gondolas waiting on a siding. 

The bridge of an overhead crane cut the sky above them. The crane was 
moving. Its huge magnet held a load of rails glued to a disk by the sole 
power of contact. There was no trace of sun in the gray spread of clouds, yet 
the rails glistened, as if the metal caught light out of space. The metal was 
a greenish-blue. The great chain stopped over a car, descended, jerked in a 
brief spasm and left the rails in the car. The crane moved back in majestic 
indifference; it looked like the giant drawing of a geometrical theorem 
moving above the men and the earth. 

They stood at the window, watching silently, intently. She did not speak, 
until another load of green-blue metal came moving across the sky. Then the 
first words she said were not about rail, track or an order completed on 
time. She said, as if greeting a new phenomenon of nature: "Rearden Metal . . 

He noticed that, but said nothing. He glanced at her, then turned back to 
the window. 

"Hank, this is great." 
"Yes . " 

He said it simply, openly. There was no flattered pleasure in his voice, 
and no modesty. This, she knew, was a tribute to her, the rarest one person 
could pay another: the tribute of feeling free to acknowledge one's own 
greatness, knowing that it is understood. 

She said, "When I think of what that metal can do, what it will make 
possible . . . Hank, this is the most important thing happening in the world 
today, and none of them know it." 

"We know it." 

They did not look at each other. They stood watching the crane. On the 
front of the locomotive in the distance, she could distinguish the letters 
TT . She could distinguish the rails of the busiest industrial siding of the 
Taggart system. 

"As soon as I can find a plant able to do it," she said, "I'm going to 
order Diesels made of Rearden Metal." 

"You'll need them. How fast do you run your trains on the Rio Norte 

"Now? We're lucky if we manage to make twenty miles an hour." 

He pointed at the cars. "When that rail is laid, you'll be able to run 
trains at two hundred and fifty, if you wish." 

"I will, in a few years, when we'll have cars of Rearden Metal, which will 
be half the weight of steel and twice as safe." 

"You'll have to look out for the air lines. We're working on a plane of 
Rearden Metal. It will weigh practically nothing and lift anything. 

You'll see the day of long-haul, heavy-freight air traffic." 

"I've been thinking of what that metal will do for motors, any motors, and 
what sort of thing one can design now." 

"Have you thought of what it will do for chicken wire? Just plain chicken- 
wire fences, made of Rearden Metal, that will cost a few pennies a mile and 
last two hundred years. And kitchenware that will be bought at the dime store 
and passed on from generation to generation. And ocean liners that one won't 
be able to dent with a torpedo." 

"Did I tell you that I'm having tests made of communications wire of 
Rearden Metal?" 

"I'm making so many tests that I'll never get through showing people what 
can be done with it and how to do it." 

They spoke of the metal and of the possibilities which they could not 
exhaust. It was as if they were standing on a mountain top, seeing a 
limitless plain below and roads open in all directions. But they merely spoke 
of mathematical figures, of weights, pressures, resistances, costs. 

She had forgotten her brother and his National Alliance. She had forgotten 
every problem, person and event behind her; they had always been clouded in 
her sight, to be hurried past, to be brushed aside, never final, never quite 
real. This was reality, she thought, this sense of clear outlines, of 
purpose, of lightness, of hope. This was the way she had expected to live— she 
had wanted to spend no hour and take no action that would mean less than 
this . 

She looked at him in the exact moment when he turned to look at her. They 
stood very close to each other. She saw, in his eyes, that he felt as she 

did. If joy is the aim and the core of existence, she thought, and if that 
which has the power to give one joy is always guarded as one's deepest 
secret, then they had seen each other naked in that moment. 

He made a step back and said in a strange tone of dispassionate wonder, 
"We're a couple of blackguards, aren't we?" 


"We haven't any spiritual goals or qualities. All we're after is material 
things. That's all we care for," 

She looked at him, unable to understand. But he was looking past her, 
straight ahead, at the crane in the distance. She wished he had not said it. 
The accusation did not trouble her, she never thought of herself in such 
terms and she was completely incapable of experiencing a feeling of 
fundamental guilt. But she felt a vague apprehension which she could not 
define, the suggestion that there was something of grave consequence in 
whatever had made him say it, something dangerous to him. He had not said it 
casually. But there had been no feeling in his voice, neither plea nor shame. 
He had said it indifferently, as a statement of fact. 

Then, as she watched him, the apprehension vanished. He was looking at his 
mills beyond the window; there was no guilt in his face, no doubt, nothing 
but the calm of an inviolate self-confidence. 

"Dagny" he said, "whatever we are, it's we who move the world and it's we 
who'll pull it through." 


The newspaper was the first thing she noticed. It was clutched tightly in 
Eddie's hand, as he entered her office. She glanced up at his face: it was 
tense and bewildered. 

"Dagny, are you very busy?" 


"I know that you don't like to talk about him. But there's something here 
I think you ought to see." 

She extended her hand silently for the newspaper. 

The story on the front page announced that upon taking over the San 
Sebastian Mines, the government of the People's State of Mexico had 
discovered that they were worthless— blatantly, totally, hopelessly worthless. 
There was nothing to justify the five years of work and the millions spent; 
nothing but empty excavations, laboriously cut. The few traces of copper were 
not worth the effort of extracting them. No great deposits of metal existed 
or could be expected to exist there, and there were no indications that could 
have permitted anyone to be deluded. The government of the People's State of 
Mexico was holding emergency sessions about their discovery, in an uproar of 
indignation; they felt that they had been cheated. 

Watching her, Eddie knew that Dagny sat looking at the newspaper long 
after she had finished reading. He knew that he had been right to feel a hint 
of fear, even though he could not tell what frightened him about that story. 

He waited. She raised her head. She did not look at him. Her eyes were 
fixed, intent in concentration, as if trying to discern something at a great 
distance . 

He said, his voice low, "Francisco is not a fool. Whatever else he may be, 
no matter what depravity he's sunk to— and I've given up trying to figure out 
why— he is not a fool. He couldn't have made a mistake of this kind. It is not 
possible. I don't understand it." 

"I'm beginning to." 

She sat up, jolted upright by a sudden movement that ran through her body 
like a shudder. She said: "Phone him at the Wayne-Falkland and tell the 
bastard that I want to see him." 

"Dagny," he said sadly, reproachfully, "it's Frisco d'Anconia." 

"It was." 

She walked through the early twilight of the city streets to the Wayne- 
Falkland Hotel. "He says, any time you wish," Eddie had told her. The first 
lights appeared in a few windows high under the clouds. 

The skyscrapers looked like abandoned lighthouses sending feeble, dying 
signals out into an empty sea where no ships moved any longer. 

A few snowflakes came down, past the dark windows of empty stores, to melt 
in the mud of the sidewalks. A string of red lanterns cut the street, going 
off into the murky distance. 

She wondered why she felt that she wanted to run, that she should be 
running; no, not down this street; down a green hillside in the blazing sun 
to the road on the edge of the Hudson, at the foot of the Taggart estate. 
That was the way she always ran when Eddie yelled, "It's Frisco d'Anconia!" 
and they both flew down the hill to the car approaching on the road below. 

He was the only guest whose arrival was an event in their childhood, their 
biggest event. The running to meet him had become part of a contest among the 
three of them. There was a birch tree on the hillside, halfway between the 
road and the house; Dagny and Eddie tried to get past the tree, before 
Francisco could race up the hill to meet them. On all the many days of his 
arrivals, in all the many summers, they never reached the birch tree; 

Francisco reached it first and stopped them when he was way past it. 
Francisco always won, as he always won everything. 

His parents were old friends of the Taggart family. He was an only son and 
he was being brought up all over the world; his father, it was said, wanted' 
him to consider the world as his future domain. 

Dagny and Eddie could never be certain of where he would spend his winter; 
but once a year, every summer, a stern South American tutor brought him for a 
month to the Taggart estate. 

Francisco found it natural that the Taggart children should be chosen as 
his companions: they were the crown heirs of Taggart Transcontinental, as he 
was of d'Anconia Copper. "We are the only aristocracy left in the world— the 
aristocracy of money," he said to Dagny once, when he was fourteen. "It's the 
only real aristocracy, if people understood what it means, which they don't." 

He had a caste system of his own: to him, the Taggart children were not 
Jim and Dagny, but Dagny and Eddie. He seldom volunteered to notice Jim's 
existence. Eddie asked him once, "Francisco, you're some kind of very high 
nobility, aren't you?" He answered, "Not yet. 

The reason my family has lasted for such a long lime is that none of us 
has ever been permitted to think he is born a d'Anconia. We are expected to 
become one." He pronounced his name as if he wished his listeners to be 
struck in the face and knighted by the sound of it. 

Sebastian d'Anconia, his ancestor, had left Spain many centuries ago, at a 
time when Spain was the most powerful country on earth and his was one of 
Spain's proudest figures. He left, because the lord of the Inquisition did 
not approve of his manner of thinking and suggested, at a court banquet, that 
he change it. Sebastian d'Anconia threw the contents of his wine glass at the 
face of the lord of the Inquisition, and escaped before he could be seized. 
He left behind him his fortune, his estate, his marble palace and the girl he 
loved— and he sailed to a new world. 

His first estate in Argentina was a wooden shack in the foothills of the 
Andes. The sun blazed like a beacon on the silver coat-of-arms of the 
d'Anconias, nailed over the door of the shack, while Sebastian d'Anconia dug 
for the copper of his first mine. He spent years, pickax in hand, breaking 
rock from sunrise till darkness, with the help of a few stray derelicts: 
deserters from the armies of his countrymen, escaped convicts, starving 
Indians . 

Fifteen years after he left Spain, Sebastian d'Anconia sent for the girl 
he loved; she had waited for him. When she arrived, she found the silver 
coat-of-arms above the entrance of a marble palace, the gardens of a great 
estate, and mountains slashed by pits of red ore in the distance. He carried 
her in his arms across the threshold of his home. He looked younger than when 
she had seen him last. 

"My ancestor and yours," Francisco told Dagny, "would have liked each 
other . " 

Through the years of her childhood, Dagny lived in the future— in the world 
she expected to find, where she would not have to feel contempt or boredom. 
But for one month each year, she was free. For one month, she could live in 
the present. When she raced down the hill to meet Francisco d'Anconia, it was 
a release from prison. 

"Hi, Slug!" 

"Hi, Frisco!" 

They had both resented the nicknames, at first. She had asked him angrily, 
"What do you think you mean?" He had answered, "In case you don't know it, 
'Slug' means a great fire in a locomotive firebox." 

"Where did you pick that up?" "From the gentlemen along the Taggart iron." 
He spoke five languages, and he spoke English without a trace of accent, a 
precise, cultured English deliberately mixed with slang. She had retaliated 

by calling him Frisco. He had laughed, amused and annoyed. "If you barbarians 
had to degrade the name of a great city of yours, you could at least refrain 
from doing it to me." But they had grown to like the nicknames. 

It had started in the days of their second summer together, when he was 
twelve years old and she was ten. That summer, Francisco began vanishing 
every morning for some purpose nobody could discover. He went off on his 
bicycle before dawn, and returned in time to appear at the white and crystal 
table set for lunch on the terrace, his manner courteously punctual and a 
little too innocent. He laughed, refusing to answer, when Dagny and Eddie 
questioned him. They tried to follow him once, through the cold, pre-morning 
darkness, but they gave it up; no one could track him when he did not want to 
be tracked. 

After a while, Mrs. Taggart began, to worry and decided to investigate. 
She never learned how he had managed to by-pass all the child-labor laws, but 
she found Francisco working— by an unofficial deal with the dispatcher— as a 
call boy for Taggart Transcontinental, at a division point ten miles away. 
The dispatcher was stupefied by her personal visit; he had no idea that his 
call boy was a house guest of the Taggarts. The boy was known to the local 
railroad crews as Frankie, and Mrs. Taggart preferred not to enlighten them 
about his full name. 

She merely explained that he was working without his parents' permission 
and had to quit at once. The dispatcher was sorry to lose him; Frankie, he 
said, was the best call boy they had ever had. "I'd sure like to keep him on. 
Maybe we could make a deal with his parents?" he suggested. "I'm afraid not." 
said Mrs. Taggart faintly. 

"Francisco, " she asked, when she brought him home, "what would your father 
say about this, if he knew?" 

"My father would ask whether I was good at the job or not. 

That's all he'd want to know." 

"Come now, I'm serious." 

Francisco was looking at her politely, his courteous manner suggesting 
centuries of breeding and drawing rooms; but something in his eyes made her 
feel uncertain about the politeness. "Last winter," he answered, "I shipped 
out as cabin boy on a cargo steamer that carried d'Anconia copper. My father 
looked for me for three months, but that's all he asked me when I came back." 

"So that's how you spend your winters?" said Jim Taggart. Jim's smile had 
a touch of triumph, the triumph of finding cause to feel contempt. 

"That was last winter, " Francisco answered pleasantly, with no change in 
the innocent, casual tone of his voice. "The winter before last I spent in 
Madrid, at the home of the Duke of Alba." 

"Why did you want to work on a railroad?" asked Dagny. 

They stood looking at each other: hers was a glance of admiration, his of 
mockery; but it was not the mockery of malice— it was the laughter of a 
salute . 

"To learn what it's like, Slug," he answered, "and to tell you that I've 
had a job with Taggart Transcontinental before you did." 

Dagny and Eddie spent their winters trying to master some new skill, in 
order to astonish Francisco and beat him, for once. They never succeeded. 
When they showed him how to hit a ball with a bat, a game he had never played 
before, he watched them for a few minutes, then said, "I think I get the 
idea. Let me try." He took the bat and sent the ball flying over a line of 
oak trees far at the end of the field. 

When Jim was given a motorboat for his birthday, they all stood on the 
river landing, watching the lesson, while an instructor showed Jim how to run 
it. None of them had ever driven a motorboat before. The sparkling white 
craft, shaped like a bullet, kept staggering clumsily across the water, its 
wake a long record of shivering, its motor choking with hiccoughs, while the 

instructor, seated beside him, kept seizing the wheel out of Jim's hands. For 
no apparent reason, Jim raised his head suddenly and yelled at Francisco, "Do 
you think you can do it any better?" "I can do it." "Try it!" 

When the boat came back and its two occupants stepped out, Francisco 
slipped behind the wheel. "Wait a moment," he said to the instructor, who 
remained on the landing. "Let me take a look at this." 

Then, before the instructor had time to move, the boat shot out to the 
middle of the river, as if fired from a gun. It was streaking away before 
they grasped what they were seeing. As it went shrinking into the distance 
and sunlight, Dagny's picture of it was three straight lines: its wake, the 
long shriek of its motor, and the aim of the driver at its wheel. 

She noticed the strange expression of her father's face as he looked at 
the vanishing speedboat. He said nothing; he just stood looking. She 
remembered that she had seen him look that way once before. It was when he 
inspected a complex system of pulleys which Francisco, aged twelve, had 
erected to make an elevator to the top of a rock; he was teaching Dagny and 
Eddie to dive from the rock into the Hudson. Francisco's notes of calculation 
were still scattered about on the ground; her father picked them up, looked 
at them, then asked, "Francisco, how many years of algebra have you had?" 
"Two years." "Who taught you to do this?" "Oh, that's just something I 
figured out." She did not know that what her father held on the crumpled 
sheets of paper was the crude version of a differential equation. 

The heirs of Sebastian d'Anconia had been an unbroken line of first sons, 
who knew how to bear his name. It was a tradition of the family that the man 
to disgrace them would be the heir who died, leaving the d'Anconia fortune no 
greater than he had received it. Throughout the generations, that disgrace 
had not come. An Argentinian legend said that the hand of a d'Anconia had the 
miraculous power of the saints- 
only it was not the power to heal, but the power to produce. 

The d'Anconia heirs had been men of unusual ability, but none of them 
could match what Francisco d'Anconia promised to become. It was as if the 
centuries had sifted the family's qualities through a fine mesh, had 
discarded the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the weak, and had let nothing 
through except pure talent; as if chance, for once, had achieved an entity 
devoid of the accidental. 

Francisco could do anything he undertook, he could do it better than 
anyone else, and he did it without effort. There was no boasting in his 
manner and consciousness, no thought of comparison. His attitude was not: "I 
can do it better than you," but simply: "I can do it." What he meant by doing 
was doing superlatively. 

No matter what discipline was required of him by his father's exacting 
plan for his education, no matter what subject he was ordered to study, 
Francisco mastered it with effortless amusement. His father adored him, but 
concealed it carefully, as he concealed the pride of knowing that he was 
bringing up the most brilliant phenomenon of a brilliant family line. 

Francisco, it was said, was to be the climax of the d'Anconias. 

"I don't know what sort of motto the d'Anconias have on their family 
crest," Mrs. Taggart said once, "but I'm sure that Francisco will change it 
to 'What for?' " It was the first question he asked about any activity 
proposed to him— and nothing would make him act, if he found no valid answer. 
He flew through the days of his summer month like a rocket, but if one 
stopped him in mid-flight, he could always name the purpose of his every 
random moment. Two things were impossible to him: to stand still or to move 
aimlessly . 

"Let's find out" was the motive he gave to Dagny and Eddie for anything he 
undertook, or "Let's make it." These were his only forms of enjoyment. 

"I can do it, " he said, when he was building his elevator, clinging to the 
side of a cliff, driving metal wedges into rock, his arms moving with an 
expert's rhythm, drops of blood slipping, unnoticed, from under a bandage on 
his wrist. "No, we can't take turns, Eddie, you're not big enough yet to 
handle a hammer. Just cart the weeds off and keep the way clear for me, I'll 
do the rest. . . . What blood? Oh, that's nothing, just a cut I got 
yesterday. Dagny, run to the house and bring me a clean bandage." 

Jim watched them. They left him alone, but they often saw him standing in 
the distance, watching Francisco with a peculiar kind of intensity. 

He seldom spoke in Francisco's presence. But he would corner Dagny and he 
would smile derisively, saying, "AH those airs you put on, pretending that 
you're an iron woman with a mind of her own! You're a spineless dishrag, 
that's all you are. It's disgusting, the way you let that conceited punk 
order you about. He can twist you around his little finger. You haven't any 
pride at all. The way you run when he whistles and wait on him! Why don't you 
shine his shoes?" "Because he hasn't told me to," she answered. 

Francisco could win any game in any local contest. He never entered 
contests. He could have ruled the junior country club. He never came within 
sight of their clubhouse, ignoring their eager attempts to enroll the most 
famous heir in the world. Dagny and Eddie were his only friends. They could 
not tell whether they owned him or were owned by him completely; it made no 
difference: either concept made them happy. 

The three of them set out every morning on adventures of their own kind. 
Once, an elderly professor of literature, Mrs. Taggart's friend, saw them on 
top of a pile in a junk yard, dismantling the carcass of an automobile. He 
stopped, shook his head and said to Francisco, "A young man of your position 
ought to spend his time in libraries, absorbing the culture of the world." 
"What do you think I'm doing?" asked Francisco. 

There were no factories in the neighborhood, but Francisco taught Dagny 
and Eddie to steal rides on Taggart trains to distant towns, where they 
climbed fences into mill yards or hung on window sills, watching machinery as 
other children watched movies. "When I run Taggart Transcontinental . . ." 
Dagny would say at times. "When I run d'Anconia Copper . . ." said Francisco. 
They never had to explain the rest to each other; they knew each other's goal 
and motive. 

Railroad conductors caught them, once in a while. Then a stationmaster a 
hundred miles away would telephone Mrs. Taggart: "We've got three young 
tramps here who say that they are—" "Yes," Mrs. Taggart would sigh, "they 
are. Please send them back." 

"Francisco, " Eddie asked him once, as they stood by the tracks of the 
Taggart station, "you've been just about everywhere in the world. 

What's the most important thing on earth?" "This," answered Francisco, 
pointing to the emblem TT on the front of an engine. He added, "I wish I 
could have met Nat Taggart." 

He noticed Dagny' s glance at him. He said nothing else. But minutes later, 
when they went on through the woods, down a narrow path of damp earth, ferns 
and sunlight, he said, "Dagny, I'll always bow to a coat-of -arms . I'll always 
worship the symbols of nobility. Am I not supposed to be an aristocrat? Only 
I don't give a damn for moth-eaten turrets and tenth-hand unicorns. The 
coats-of -arms of our day are to be found on billboards and in the ads of 
popular magazines." "What do you mean?" asked Eddie. "Industrial trademarks, 
Eddie," he answered. 

Francisco was fifteen years old, that summer. 

"When I run d'Anconia Copper . . ." "I'm studying mining and mineralogy, 
because I must be ready for the time when I run d'Anconia Copper. . . ." "I'm 
studying electrical engineering, because power companies are the best 

customers of d'Anconia Copper. . . . " "I'm going to study philosophy, because 
I'll need it to protect d'Anconia Copper. . . ." 

"Don't you ever think of anything but d'Anconia Copper?" Jim asked him 
once . 

"No . " 

"It seems to me that there are other things in the world." 
"Let others think about them." 
"Isn't that a very selfish attitude?" 
"It is." 

"What are you after?" 
"Money. " 

"Don't you have enough?" 

"In his lifetime, every one of my ancestors raised the production of 
d'Anconia Copper by about ten per cent. I intend to raise it by one hundred." 
"What for?" Jim asked, in sarcastic imitation of Francisco's voice. 
"When I die, I hope to go to heaven— whatever the hell that is— 
and I want to be able to afford the price of admission." 
"Virtue is the price of admission," Jim said haughtily. 

"That's what I mean, James. So I want to be prepared to claim the greatest 
virtue of all— that I was a man who made money." 
"Any grafter can make money." 

"James, you ought to discover some day that words have an exact meaning." 

Francisco smiled; it was a smile of radiant mockery. Watching them, Dagny 
thought suddenly of the difference between Francisco and her brother Jim. 
Both of them smiled derisively. But Francisco seemed to laugh at things 
because he saw something much greater. Jim laughed as if he wanted to let 
nothing remain great. 

She noticed the particular quality of Francisco's smile again, one night, 
when she sat with him and Eddie at a bonfire they had built in the woods. The 
glow of the fire enclosed them within a fence of broken, moving strips that 
held pieces of tree trunks, branches and distant stars. 

She felt as if there were nothing beyond that fence, nothing but black 
emptiness, with the hint of some breath-stopping, frightening promise . . . 
like the future. But the future, she thought, would be like Francisco's 
smile, there was the key to it, the advance warning of its nature —in his 
face in the firelight under the pine branches— and suddenly she felt an 
unbearable happiness, unbearable because it was too full and she had no way 
to express it. She glanced at Eddie. He was looking at Francisco. In some 
quiet way of his own, Eddie felt as she did. 

"Why do you like Francisco?" she asked him weeks later, when Francisco was 
gone . 

Eddie looked astonished; it had never occurred to him that the feeling 
could be questioned. He said, "He makes me feel safe." 
She said, "He makes me expect excitement and danger." 

Francisco was sixteen, next summer, the day when she stood alone with him 
on the summit of a cliff by the river, their shorts and shirts torn in their 
climb to the top. They stood looking down the Hudson; they had heard that on 
clear days one could see New York in the distance. But they saw only a haze 
made of three different kinds of light merging together: the river, the sky 
and the sun. 

She knelt on a rock, leaning forward, trying to catch some hint of the 
city, the wind blowing her hair across her eyes. She glanced back over her 
shoulder— and saw that Francisco was not looking at the distance: he stood 
looking at her. It was an odd glance, intent and unsmiling. She remained 
still for a moment, her hands spread flat on the rock, her arms tensed to 
support the weight of her body; inexplicably, his glance made her aware of 
her pose, of her shoulder showing through the torn shirt, of her long, 

scratched, sunburned legs slanting from the rock to the ground. She stood up 
angrily and backed away from him. And while throwing her head up, resentment 
in her eyes to meet the sternness in his, while feeling certain that his was 
a glance of condemnation and hostility, she heard herself asking him, a tone 
of smiling defiance in her voice: "What do you like about me?" 

He laughed; she wondered, aghast, what had made her say it. He answered, 
"There's what I like about you," pointing to the glittering rails of the 
Taggart station in the distance. 

"It's not mine," she said, disappointed. 

"What I like is that it's going to be." 

She smiled, conceding his victory by being openly delighted. She did not 
know why he had looked at her so strangely; but she felt that he had seen 
some connection, which she could not grasp, between her body and something 
within her that would give her the strength to rule those rails some day. 

He said brusquely, "Let's see if we can see New York," and jerked her by 
the arm to the edge of the cliff. She thought that he did not notice that he 
twisted her arm in a peculiar way, holding it down along the length of his 
side; it made her stand pressed against him, and she felt the warmth of the 
sun in the skin of his legs against hers. They looked far out into the 
distance, but they saw nothing ahead except a haze of light. 

When Francisco left, that summer, she thought that his departure was; like 
the crossing of a frontier which ended his childhood: he was to start 
college, that fall. Her turn would come next. She felt an eager impatience 
touched by the excitement of fear, as if he had leaped into an unknown 
danger. It was like the moment, years ago, when she had seen him dive first 
from a rock into the Hudson, had seen him vanish under the black water and 
had stood, knowing that he would reappear in an instant and that it would 
then be her turn to follow. 

She dismissed the fear; dangers, to Francisco, were merely opportunities 
for another brilliant performance; there were no battles he could lose, no 
enemies to beat him. And then she thought of a remark she had heard a few 
years earlier. It was a strange remark— and it was strange that the words had 
remained in her mind, even though she had thought them senseless at the time. 
The man who said it was an old professor of mathematics, a friend of her 
father, who came to their country house for just that one visit. She liked 
his face, and she could still see the peculiar sadness in his eyes when he 
said to her father one evening, sitting on the terrace in the fading light, 
pointing to Francisco's figure in the garden, "That boy is vulnerable. He has 
too great a capacity for joy. 

What will he do with it in a world where there's so little occasion for 

Francisco went to a great American school, which his father had chosen for 
him long ago. It was the most distinguished institution of learning left in 
the world, the Patrick Henry University of Cleveland. 

He did not come to visit her in New York, that winter, even though he was 
only a night's journey away. They did not write to each other, they had never 
done it. But she knew that he would come back to the country for one summer 
month . 

There were a few times, that winter, when she felt an undefined 
apprehension: the professor's words kept returning to her mind, as a warning 
which she could not explain. She dismissed them. When she thought of 
Francisco, she felt the steadying assurance that she would have another month 
as an advance against the future, as a proof that the world she saw ahead was 
real, even though it was not the world of those around her. 

"Hi, Slug!" 

"Hi, Frisco!" 

Standing on the hillside, in the first moment of seeing him again, she 
grasped suddenly the nature of that world which they, together, held against 
all others. It was only an instant's pause, she felt her cotton skirt beating 
in the wind against her knees, felt the sun on her eyelids, and the upward 
thrust of such an immense relief that she ground her feet into the grass 
under her sandals, because she thought she would rise, weightless, through 
the wind. 

It was a sudden sense of freedom and safety— because she realized that she 
knew nothing about the events of his life, had never known and would never 
need to know. The world of chance— of families, meals, schools, people, of 
aimless people dragging the load of some unknown guilt— was not theirs, could 
not change him, could not matter. He and she had never spoken of the things 
that happened to them, but only of what they thought and of what they would 
do. . . . She looked at him silently, as if a voice within her were saying: 
Not the things that are, but the things we'll make ... We are not to be 
stopped, you and I . . . 

Forgive me the fear, if I thought I could lose you to them— forgive me the 
doubt, they'll never reach you— I'll never be afraid for you again. . . . 

He, too, stood looking at her for a moment— and it seemed to her that it 
was not a look of greeting after an absence, but the look of someone who had 
thought of her every day of that year. She could not be certain, it was only 
an instant, so brief that just as she caught it, he was turning to point at 
the birch tree behind him and saying in the tone of their childhood game: "I 
wish you'd learn to run faster. I'll always have to wait for you." 

"Will you wait for me?" she asked gaily. 

He answered, without smiling, "Always." 

As they went up the hill to the house, he spoke to Eddie, while she walked 
silently by his side. She felt that there was a new reticence between them 
which, strangely, was a new kind of intimacy. 

She did not question him about the university. Days later, she asked him 
only whether he liked it. 

"They're teaching a lot of drivel nowadays," he answered, "but there are a 
few courses I like." 

"Have you made any friends there?" 

"Two. " 

He told her nothing else. 

Jim was approaching his senior year in a college in New York. His studies 
had given him a manner of odd, quavering belligerence, as if he had found a 
new weapon. He addressed Francisco once, without provocation, stopping him in 
the middle of the lawn to say in a tone of aggressive self-righteousness: "I 
think that now that you've reached college age, you ought to learn something 
about ideals. It's time to forget your selfish greed and give some thought to 
your social responsibilities, because I think that all those millions you're 
going to inherit are not for your personal pleasure, they are a trust for the 
benefit of the underprivileged and the poor, because I think that the person 
who doesn't realize this is the most depraved type of human being." 

Francisco answered courteously, "It is not advisable, lames, to venture 
unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of 
their exact value to your listener." 

Dagny asked him, as they walked away, "Are there many men like Jim in the 

Francisco laughed. "A great many." 
"Don't you mind it?" 

"No. I don't have to deal with them. Why do you ask that?" 

"Because I think they're dangerous in some way ... I don't know how . . 

"Good God, Dagny! Do you expect me to be afraid of an object like James?" 

It was days later, when they were alone, walking through the woods on the 
shore of the river, that she asked: "Francisco, what's the most depraved type 
of human being?" 

"The man without a purpose." 

She was looking at the straight shafts of the trees that stood against the 
great, sudden, shining spread of space beyond. The forest was dim and cool, 
but the outer branches caught the hot, silver sunrays from the water. She 
wondered why she enjoyed the sight, when she had never taken any notice of 
the country around her, why she was so aware of her enjoyment, of her 
movements, of her body in the process of walking. 

She did not want to look at Francisco. She felt that his presence seemed 
more intensely real when she kept her eyes away from him, almost as if the 
stressed awareness of herself came from him, like the sunlight from the 
water . 

"You think you're good, don't you?" he asked. 

"I always did," she answered defiantly, without turning. 

"Well, let me sec you prove it. Let me see how far you'll rise with 
Taggart Transcontinental. No matter how good you are, I'll expect you to 
wring everything you've got, trying to be still better. And when you've worn 
yourself out to reach a goal, I'll expect you to start for another." 

"Why do you think that I care to prove anything to you?" she asked. 

"Want me to answer?" 

"No, " she whispered, her eyes fixed upon the other shore of the river in 
the distance. 

She heard him chuckling, and after a while he said, "Dagny, there's 
nothing of any importance in life— except how well you do your work. 

Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It's the 
only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they'll try to ram down 
your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece 
people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of 
morality that's on a gold standard. When you grow up, you'll know what I 
mean . " 

"I know it now. But . . . Francisco, why are you and I the only ones who 
seem to know it?" 

"Why should you care about the others?" 

"Because I like to understand things, and there's something about people 
that I can't understand." 

"Well, I've always been unpopular in school and it didn't bother me, but 
now I've discovered the reason. It's an impossible kind of reason. 

They dislike me, not because I do things badly, but because I do them 
well. They dislike me because I've always had the best grades in the class. I 
don't even have to study. I always get A's. Do you suppose I should try to 
get D's for a change and become the most popular girl in school?" 

Francisco stopped, looked at her and slapped her face. 

What she felt was contained in a single instant, while the ground rocked 
under her feet, in a single blast of emotion within her. She knew that she 
would have killed any other person who struck her; she felt the violent fury 
which would have given her the strength for it— and as violent a pleasure that 
Francisco had done it. She felt pleasure from the dull, hot pain in her cheek 
and from the taste of blood in the corner of her mouth. She felt pleasure in 
what she suddenly grasped about him, about herself and about his motive. 

She braced her feet to stop the dizziness, she held her head straight and 
stood facing him in the consciousness of a new power, feeling herself his 
equal for the first time, looking at him with a mocking smile of triumph. 

"Did I hurt you as much as that?" she asked. 

He looked astonished; the question and the smile were not those of a 
child. He answered, "Yes— if it pleases you." 
"It does." 

"Don't ever do that again. Don't crack jokes of that kind." 
"Don't be a fool. Whatever made you think that I cared about being 
popular? " 

"When you grow up, you'll understand what sort of unspeakable thing you 
said. " 

"I understand it now." 

He turned abruptly, took out his handkerchief and dipped it in the water 
of the river. "Come here," he ordered. 

She laughed, stepping back, "Oh no. I want to keep it as it is. I hope it 
swells terribly. I like it." 

He looked at her for a long moment. He said slowly, very earnestly, 
"Dagny, you're wonderful." 

"I thought that you always thought so, " she answered, her voice insolently 
casual . 

When she came home, she told her mother that she had cut her lip by 
falling against a rock. It was the only lie she ever told. She did not do it 
to protect Francisco; she did it because she felt, for some reason which she 
could not define, that the incident was a secret too precious to share, Next 
summer, when Francisco came, she was sixteen. She started running down the 
hill to meet him, but stopped abruptly. He saw it, stopped, and they stood 
for a moment, looking at each other across the distance of a long, green 
slope. It was he who walked up toward her, walked very slowly, while she 
stood waiting. 

When he approached, she smiled innocently, as if unconscious of any 
contest intended or won. 

"You might like to know," she said, "that I have a job on the railroad. 
Night operator at Rockdale." 

He laughed. "All right, Taggart Transcontinental, now it's a race. 
Let's see who'll do greater honor, you— to Nat Taggart, or I— to Sebastian 
d ' Anconia . " 

That winter, she stripped her life down to the bright simplicity of a 
geometrical drawing: a few straight lines— to and from the engineering college 
in the city each day, to and from her job at Rockdale Station each night— and 
the closed circle of her room, a room littered with diagrams of motors, 
blueprints of steel structures, and railroad timetables. 

Mrs. Taggart watched her daughter in unhappy bewilderment. She could have 
forgiven all the omissions, but one: Dagny showed no sign of interest in men, 
no romantic inclination whatever. Mrs. Taggart did not approve of extremes; 
she had been prepared to contend with an extreme of the opposite kind, if 
necessary; she found herself thinking that this was worse. She felt 
embarrassed when she had to admit that her daughter, at seventeen, did not 
have a single admirer. 

"Dagny and Francisco d'Anconia?" she said, smiting ruefully, in answer to 
the curiosity of her friends. "Oh no, it's not a romance. It's an 
international industrial cartel of some kind. That's all they seem to care 
about . " 

Mrs. Taggart heard James say one evening, in the presence of guests, a 
peculiar tone of satisfaction in his voice, "Dagny, even though you were 
named after her, you really look more like Nat Taggart than like that first 
Dagny Taggart, the famous beauty who was his wife." Mrs. Taggart did not know 
which offended her most: that James said it or that Dagny accepted it happily 
as a compliment. 

She would never have a chance, thought Mrs. Taggart, to form some 
conception of her own daughter. Dagny was only a figure hurrying in and out 

of the apartment, a slim figure in a leather jacket, with a raised collar, a 
short skirt and long show-girl legs. She walked, cutting across a room, with 
a masculine, straight-line abruptness, but she had a peculiar grace of motion 
that was swift, tense and oddly, challengingly feminine. 

At times, catching a glimpse of Dagny's face, Mrs. Taggart caught an 
expression which she could not quite define: it was much more than gaiety, it 
was the look of such an untouched purity of enjoyment that she found it 
abnormal, too: no young girl could be so insensitive as to have discovered no 
sadness in life. Her daughter, she concluded, was incapable of emotion. 

"Dagny.," she asked once, "don't you ever want to have a good time?" Dagny 
looked at her incredulously and answered, "What do you think I'm having?" 

The decision to give her daughter a formal debut cost Mrs. Taggart a great 
deal of anxious thought. She did not know whether she was introducing to New 
York society Miss Dagny Taggart of the Social Register or the night operator 
of Rockdale Station; she was inclined to believe it was more truly this last; 
and she felt certain that Dagny would reject the idea of such an occasion. 
She was astonished when Dagny accepted it with inexplicable eagerness, for 
once like a child. 

She was astonished again, when she saw Dagny dressed for the party, It was 
the first feminine dress she had ever worn— a gown of white chiffon with a 
huge skirt that floated like a cloud. Mrs. Taggart had expected her to look 
like a preposterous contrast. Dagny looked like a beauty. She seemed both 
older and more radiantly innocent than usual; standing in front of a mirror, 
she held her head as Nat Taggart ' s wife would have held it. 

"Dagny," Mrs. Taggart said gently, reproachfully, "do you see how 
beautiful you can be when you want to?" 

"Yes," said Dagny, without any astonishment. 

The ballroom of the Wayne-Falkland Hotel had been decorated under Mrs. 
Taggart ' s direction; she had an artist's taste, and the setting of that 
evening was her masterpiece. "Dagny, there are things I would like you to 
learn to notice," she said, "lights, colors, flowers, music. 

They are not as negligible as you might think." "I've never thought 
they're negligible," Dagny answered happily. For once, Mrs. Taggart felt a 
bond between them; Dagny was looking at her with a child's grateful trust. 
"They're the things that make life beautiful," said Mrs. 

Taggart. "I want this evening to be very beautiful for you, Dagny. The 
first ball is the most romantic event of one's life." 

To Mrs. Taggart, the greatest surprise was the moment when she saw Dagny 
standing under the lights, looking at the ballroom. This was not a child, not 
a girl, but a woman of such confident, dangerous power that Mrs. Taggart 
stared at her with shocked admiration. In an age of casual, cynical, 
indifferent routine, among people who held themselves as if they were not 
flesh, but meat— Dagny's bearing seemed almost indecent, because this was the 
way a woman would have faced a ballroom centuries ago, when the act of 
displaying one's half-naked body for the admiration of men was an act of 
daring, when it had meaning, and but one meaning, acknowledged by all as a 
high adventure. And this— thought Mrs. Taggart, smiling— was the girl she had 
believed to be devoid of sexual capacity. She felt an immense relief, and a 
touch of amusement at the thought that a discovery of this kind should make 
her feel relieved. 

The relief lasted only for a few hours. At the end of the evening, she saw 
Dagny in a corner of the ballroom, sitting on a balustrade as if it were a 
fence rail, her legs dangling under the chiffon skirt as if she were dressed 
in slacks. She was talking to a couple of helpless young men, her face 
contemptuously empty. 

Neither Dagny nor Mrs. Taggart said a word when they rode home together. 
But hours later, on a sudden impulse, Mrs. Taggart went to her daughter's 

room. Dagny stood by the window, still wearing the white evening gown; it 
looked like a cloud supporting a body that now seemed too thin for it, a 
small body with sagging shoulders. Beyond the window, the clouds were gray in 
the first light of morning. 

When Dagny turned, Mrs. Taggart saw only puzzled helplessness in her face; 
the face was calm, but something about it made Mrs. Taggart wish she had not 
wished that her daughter should discover sadness. 

"Mother, do they think it's exactly in reverse?" she asked. 

"What?" asked Mrs. Taggart, bewildered. 

"The things you were talking about. The lights and the flowers. Do they 
expect those things to make them romantic, not the other way around?" 
"Darling, what do you mean?" 

"There wasn't a person there who enjoyed it," she said, her voice 
lifeless, "or who thought or felt anything at all. They moved about, and they 
said the same dull things they say anywhere. I suppose they thought the 
lights would make it brilliant." 

"Darling, you take everything too seriously. One is not supposed to be 
intellectual at a ball. One is simply supposed to be gay." 

"How? By being stupid?" 

"I mean, for instance, didn't you enjoy meeting the young men?" 

"What men? There wasn't a man there I couldn't squash ten of." 

Days later, sitting at her desk at Rockdale Station, feeling 
lightheartedly at home, Dagny thought of the party and shrugged in 
contemptuous reproach at her own disappointment. She looked up: it was spring 
and there were leaves on the tree branches in the darkness outside; the air 
was still and warm. She asked herself what she had expected from that party. 
She did not know. But she felt it again, here, now, as she sat slouched over 
a battered desk, looking out into the darkness: a sense of expectation 
without object, rising through her body, slowly, like a warm liquid. She 
slumped forward across the desk, lazily, feeling neither exhaustion nor 
desire to work. 

When Francisco came, that summer, she told him about the party and about 
her disappointment. He listened silently, looking at her for the first time 
with that glance of unmoving mockery which he reserved for others, a glance 
that seemed to see too much. She felt as if he heard, in her words, more than 
she knew she told him. 

She saw the same glance in his eyes on the evening when she left him too 
early. They were alone, sitting on the shore of the river. 

She had another hour before she was due at Rockdale. There were long, thin 
strips of fire in the sky, and red sparks floating lazily on the water. He 
had been silent for a long time, when she rose abruptly and told him that she 
had to go. He did not try to stop her; he leaned back, his elbows in the 
grass, and looked at her without moving; his glance seemed to say that he 
knew her motive. Hurrying angrily up the slope to the house, she wondered 
what had made her leave; she did not know; it had been a sudden restlessness 
that came from a feeling she did not identify till now: a feeling of 
expectation . 

Each night, she drove the five miles from the country house to Rockdale. 
She came back at dawn, slept a few hours and got up with the rest of the 
household. She felt no desire to sleep. Undressing for bed in the first rays 
of the sun, she felt a tense, joyous, causeless impatience to face the day 
that was starting. 

She saw Francisco's mocking glance again, across the net of a tennis 
court. She did not remember the beginning of that game; they had often played 
tennis together and he had always won. She did not know at what moment she 
decided that she would win, this time. 

When she became aware of it, it was no longer a decision or a wish, but a 
quiet fury rising within her. She did not know why she had to win; she did 
not know why it seemed so crucially, urgently necessary; she knew only that 
she had to and that she would. 

It seemed easy to play; it was as if her will had vanished and someone's 
power were playing for her. She watched Francisco's figure — a tall, swift 
figure, the suntan of his arms stressed by his short white shirt sleeves. She 
felt an arrogant pleasure in seeing the skill of his movements, because this 
was the thing which she would beat, so that his every expert gesture became 
her victory, and the brilliant competence of his body became the triumph of 
hers . 

She felt the rising pain of exhaustion— not knowing that it was pain, 
feeling it only in sudden stabs that made her aware of some part of her body 
for an instant, to be forgotten in the next: her arm socket— 

her shoulder blades— her hips, with the white shorts sticking to her skin — 
the muscles of her legs, when she leaped to meet the ball, but did not 
remember whether she came down to touch the ground again— her eyelids, when 
the sky went dark red and the ball came at her through the darkness like a 
whirling white flame— the thin, hot wire that shot from her ankle, up her 
back, and went on shooting straight across the air, driving the ball at 
Francisco's figure. . . . She felt an exultant pleasure— because every stab of 
pain begun in her body had to end in his, because he was being exhausted as 
she was— what she did to herself, she was doing it also to him— this was what 
he felt— this was what she drove him to— it was not her pain that she felt or 
her body, but his. 

In the moments when she saw his face, she saw that he was laughing. 

He was looking at her as if he understood. He was playing, not to win, but 
to make it harder for her— sending his shots wild to make her run —losing 
points to see her twist her body in an agonizing backhand- 
standing still, letting her think he would miss, only to let his arm shoot 
out casually at the last moment and send the ball back with such force that 
she knew she would miss it. She felt as if she could not move again, not 
ever— and it was strange to find herself landing suddenly at the other side of 
the court, smashing the ball in time, smashing it as if she wished it to 
burst to pieces, as if she wished it were Francisco's face. 

Just once more, she thought, even if the next one would crack the bones of 
her arm . . . Just once more, even if the air which she forced down in gasps 
past her tight, swollen throat, would be stopped altogether . . . Then she 
felt nothing, no pain, no muscles, only the thought that she had to beat him, 
to see him exhausted, to see him collapse, and then she would be free to die 
in the next moment . 

She won. Perhaps it was his laughing that made him lose, for once. 

He walked to the net, while she stood still, and threw his racket across, 
at her feet, as if knowing that this was what she wanted. He walked out of 
the court and fell down on the grass of the lawn, collapsing, his head on his 

She approached him slowly. She stood over him, looking down at his body 
stretched at her feet, looking at his sweat-drenched shirt and the strands of 
his hair spilled across his arm. He raised his head. His glance moved slowly 
up the line of her legs, to her shorts, to her blouse, to her eyes. It was a 
mocking glance that seemed to see straight through her clothes and through 
her mind. And it seemed to say that he had won. 

She sat at her desk at Rockdale, that night, alone in the old station 
building, looking at the sky in the window. It was the hour she liked best, 
when the top panes of the window grew lighter, and the rails of the track 
outside became threads of blurred silver across the lower panes. She turned 
off her lamp and watched the vast, soundless motion of light over a 

motionless earth. Things stood still, not a leaf trembled on the branches, 
while the sky slowly lost its color and became an expanse that looked like a 
spread of glowing water. 

Her telephone was silent at this hour, almost as if movement had stopped 
everywhere along the system. She heard steps approaching outside, suddenly, 
close to the door. Francisco came in. He had never come here before, but she 
was not astonished to see him. 

"What are you doing up at this hour?" she asked. 

"I didn't feel like sleeping." 

"How did you get here? I didn't hear your car." 
"I walked." 

Moments passed before she realized that she had not asked him why he came 
and that she did not want to ask it. 

He wandered through the room, looking at the clusters of waybills that 
hung on the walls, at the calendar with a picture of the Taggart Comet caught 
in a proud surge of motion toward the onlooker. He seemed casually at home, 
as if he felt that the place belonged to them, as they always felt wherever 
they went together. But he did not seem to want to talk. He asked a few 
questions about her job, then kept silent. 

As the light grew outside, movement grew down on the line and the 
telephone started ringing in the silence. She turned to her work. He sat in a 
corner, one leg thrown over the arm of his chair, waiting. 

She worked swiftly, feeling inordinately clear-headed. She found pleasure 
in the rapid precision of her hands. She concentrated on the sharp, bright 
sound of the phone, on the figures of train numbers, car numbers, order 
numbers. She was conscious of nothing else. 

But when a thin sheet of paper fluttered down to the floor and she bent to 
pick it up, she was suddenly as intently conscious of that particular moment, 
of herself and her own movement. She noticed her gray linen skirt, the rolled 
sleeve of her gray blouse and her naked arm reaching down for the paper. She 
felt her heart stop causelessly in the kind of gasp one feels in moments of 
anticipation. She picked up the paper and turned back to her desk. 

It was almost full daylight. A train went past the station, without 
stopping. In the purity of the morning light, the long line of car roofs 
melted into a silver string, and the train seemed suspended above the ground, 
not quite touching it, going past through the air. The floor of the station 
trembled., and glass rattled in the windows. She watched the train's flight 
with a smile of excitement. She glanced at Francisco: he was looking at her, 
with the same smile. 

When the day operator arrived, she turned the station over to him, and 
they walked out into the morning air. The sun had not yet risen and the air 
seemed radiant in its stead. She felt no exhaustion. She felt as if she were 
just getting up. 

She started toward her car, but Francisco said, "Let's walk home. 
We'll come for the car later." 
"All right." 

She was not astonished and she did not mind the prospect of walking five 
miles. It seemed natural; natural to the moment's peculiar reality that was 
sharply clear, but cut off from everything, immediate, but disconnected, like 
a bright island in a wall of fog, the heightened, unquestioning reality one 
feels when one is drunk. 

The road led through the woods. They left the highway for an old trail 
that went twisting among the trees across miles of untouched country. There 
were no traces of human existence around them. Old ruts, overgrown with 
grass, made human presence seem more distant, adding the distance of years to 
the distance of miles. A haze of twilight remained over the ground, but in 
the breaks between the tree trunks there were leaves that hung in patches of 

shining green and seemed to light the forest. The leaves hung still. They 
walked, alone to move through a motionless world. She noticed suddenly that 
they had not said a word for a long time. 

They came to a clearing. It was a small hollow at the bottom of a shaft 
made of straight rock hillsides. A stream cut across the grass, and tree 
branches flowed low to the ground, like a curtain of green fluid. 

The sound of the water stressed the silence. The distant cut of open sky 
made the place seem more hidden. Far above, on the crest of a hill, one tree 
caught the first rays of sunlight. 

They stopped and looked at each other. She knew, only when he did it, that 
she had known he would. He seized her, she felt her lips in his mouth, felt 
her arms grasping him in violent answer, and knew for the first time how much 
she had wanted him to do it. 

She felt a moment's rebellion and a hint of fear. He held her, pressing 
the length of his body against hers with a tense, purposeful insistence, his 
hand moving over her breasts as if he were learning a proprietor's intimacy 
with her body, a shocking intimacy that needed no consent from her, no 
permission. She tried to pull herself away, but she only leaned back against 
his arms long enough to see his face and his smile, the smile that told her 
she had given him permission long ago. She thought that she must escape; 
instead, it was she who pulled his head down to find his mouth again. 

She knew that fear was useless, that he would do what he wished, that the 
decision was his, that he left nothing possible to her except the thing she 
wanted most— to submit. She had no conscious realization of his purpose, her 
vague knowledge of it was wiped out, she had no power to believe it clearly, 
in this moment, to believe it about herself, she knew only that she was 
afraid— yet what she felt was as if she were crying to him: Don't ask me for 
it— oh, don't ask me— do it! 

She braced her feet for an instant, to resist, but his mouth was pressed 
to hers and they went down to the ground together, never breaking their lips 
apart. She lay still— as the motionless, then the quivering object of an act 
which he did simply, unhesitatingly, as of right, the right of the 
unendurable pleasure it gave them. 

He named what it meant to both of them in the first words he spoke 
afterwards. He said, "We had to learn it from each other." She looked at his 
long figure stretched on the grass beside her, he wore black slacks and a 
black shirt, her eyes stopped on the belt pulled tight across his slender 
waistline, and she felt the stab of an emotion that was like a gasp of pride, 
pride in her ownership of his body. She lay on her back, looking up at the 
sky, feeling no desire to move or think or know that there was any time 
beyond this moment. 

When she came home, when she lay in bed, naked because her body had become 
an unfamiliar possession, too precious for the touch of a nightgown, because 
it gave her pleasure to feel naked and to feel as if the white sheets of her 
bed were touched by Francisco's body— when she thought that she would not 
sleep, because she did not want to rest and lose the most wonderful 
exhaustion she had ever known— her last thought was of the times when she had 
wanted to express, but found no way to do it, an instant's knowledge of a 
feeling greater than happiness, the feeling of one's blessing upon the whole 
of the earth, the feeling of being in love with the fact that one exists and 
in this kind of world; she thought that the act she had learned was the way 
one expressed it. If this was a thought of the gravest importance, she did 
not know it; nothing could be grave in a universe from which the concept of 
pain had been wiped out; she was not there to weigh her conclusion; she was 
asleep, a faint smile on her face, in a silent, luminous room filled with the 
light of morning. 

That summer, she met him in the woods, in hidden corners by the river, on 
the floor of an abandoned shack, in the cellar of the house. 

These were the only times when she learned to feel a sense of beauty— 
by looking up at old wooden rafters or at the steel plate of an air 
conditioning machine that whirred tensely, rhythmically above their heads. 
She wore slacks or cotton summer dresses, yet she was never so feminine as 
when she stood beside him, sagging in his arms, abandoning herself to 
anything he wished, in open acknowledgment of his power to reduce her to 
helplessness by the pleasure he had the power to give her. He taught her 
every manner of sensuality he could invent. "Isn't it wonderful that our 
bodies can give us so much pleasure?" he said to her once, quite simply. They 
were happy and radiantly innocent. They were both incapable of the conception 
that joy is sin. 

They kept their secret from the knowledge of others, not as a shameful 
guilt, but as a thing that was immaculately theirs, beyond anyone's right of 
debate or appraisal. She knew the general doctrine on sex, held by people in 
one form or another, the doctrine that sex was an ugly weakness of man's 
lower nature, to be condoned regretfully. She experienced an emotion of 
chastity that made her shrink, not from the desires of her body, but from any 
contact with the minds who held this doctrine. 

That winter, Francisco came to see her in New York, at unpredictable 
intervals. He would fly down from Cleveland, without warning, twice a week, 
or he would vanish for months. She would sit on the floor of her room, 
surrounded by charts and blueprints, she would hear a knock at her door and 
snap, "I'm busy!" then hear a mocking voice ask, "Are you?" and leap to her 
feet to throw the door open, to find him standing there. They would go to an 
apartment he had rented in the city, a small apartment in a quiet 
neighborhood. "Francisco," she asked him once, in sudden astonishment, "I'm 
your mistress, am I not?" He laughed. "That's what you are." She felt the 
pride a woman is supposed to experience at being granted the title of wife. 

In the many months of his absence, she never wondered whether he was true 
to her or not; she knew he was. She knew, even though she was too young to 
know the reason, that indiscriminate desire and unselective indulgence were 
possible only to those who regarded sex and themselves as evil. 

She knew little about Francisco's life. It was his last year in college; 
he seldom spoke of it, and she never questioned him. She suspected that he 
was working too hard, because she saw, at times, the unnaturally bright look 
of his face, the look of exhilaration that comes from driving one's energy 
beyond its limit. She laughed at him once, boasting that she was an old 
employee of Taggart Transcontinental, while he had not started to work for a 
living. He said, "My father refuses to let me work for d'Anconia Copper until 
I graduate." "When did you learn to be obedient?" "I must respect his wishes. 
He is the owner of d'Anconia Copper. . . . He is not, however, the owner of 
all the copper companies in the world." There was a hint of secret amusement 
in his smile. 

She did not learn the story until the next fall, when he had graduated and 
returned to New York after a visit to his father in Buenos Aires. 

Then he told her that he had taken two courses of education during the 
last four years: one at the Patrick Henry University, the other in a copper 
foundry on the outskirts of Cleveland. "I like to learn things for myself," 
he said. He had started working at the foundry as furnace boy, when he was 
sixteen— and now, at twenty, he owned it. He acquired his first title of 
property, with the aid of some inaccuracy about his age, on the day when he 
received his university diploma, and he sent them both to his father. 

He showed her a photograph of the foundry. It was a small, grimy place, 
disreputable with age, battered by years of a losing struggle; above its 

entrance gate, like a new flag on the mast of a derelict, hung the sign: 
d'Anconia Copper. 

The public relations man of his father's office in New York had moaned, 
outraged, "But, Don Francisco, you can't do that! What will the public think? 
That name on a dump of this kind?" "It's my name," 

Francisco had answered. 

When he entered his father's office in Buenos Aires, a large room, severe 
and modern as a laboratory, with photographs of the properties of d'Anconia 
Copper as sole ornament on its walls— photographs of the greatest mines, ore 
docks and foundries in the world— he saw, in the place of honor, facing his 
father's desk, a photograph of the Cleveland foundry with the new sign above 
its gate. 

His father's eyes moved from the photograph to Francisco's face as he 
stood in front of the desk. 

"Isn't it a little too soon?" his father asked. 

"I couldn't have stood four years of nothing but lectures." 

"Where did you get the money for your first payment on that property?" 

"By playing the New York stock market, " 

"What? Who taught you to do that?" 

"It is not difficult to judge which industrial ventures will succeed and 
which won ' t . " 

"Where did you get the money to play with?" 

"From the allowance you sent me, sir, and from my wages." 

"When did you have time to watch the stock market?" 

"While I was writing a thesis on the influence— upon subsequent 
metaphysical systems— of Aristotle's theory of the Immovable Mover." 

Francisco's stay in New York was brief, that fall. His father was sending 
him to Montana as assistant superintendent of a d'Anconia mine. "Oh well," he 
said to Dagny, smiling, "my father does not think it advisable to let me rise 
too fast. I would not ask him to take me on faith. If he wants a factual 
demonstration, I shall comply." In the spring, Francisco came back— as head of 
the New York office of d'Anconia Copper. 

She did not see him often in the next two years. She never knew where he 
was, in what city or on what continent, the day after she had seen him. He 
always came to her unexpectedly— and she liked it, because it made him a 
continuous presence in her life, like the ray of a hidden light that could 
hit her at any moment. 

Whenever she saw him in his office, she thought of his hands as she had 
seen them on the wheel of a motorboat: he drove his business HI with the same 
smooth, dangerous, confidently mastered speed. But one small incident 
remained in her mind as a shock: it did not fit him. 

She saw him standing at the window of his office, one evening, looking at 
the brown winter twilight of the city. He did not move for a long time. His 
face was hard and tight; it had the look of an emotion she had never believed 
possible to him: of bitter, helpless anger. He said, "There's something wrong 
in the world. There's always been. Something no one has ever named or 
explained." He would not tell her what it was. 

When she saw him again, no trace of that incident remained in his manner. 
It was spring and they stood together on the roof terrace of a restaurant, 
the light silk of her evening gown blowing in the wind against his tall 
figure in formal black clothes. They looked at the city. 

In the dining room behind them, the sounds of the music were a concert 
etude by Richard Halley; Halley's name was not known to many, but they had 
discovered it and they loved his music. Francisco said, "We don't have to 
look for skyscrapers in the distance, do we? 

We've reached them." She smiled and said, "I think we're going past them. 
. . . I'm almost afraid . . . we're on a speeding elevator of some kind." 
"Sure. Afraid of what? Let it speed. Why should there be a limit?" 

He was twenty-three when his father died and he went to Buenos Aires to 
take over the d'Anconia estate, now his. She did not see him for three years. 

He wrote to her, at first, at random intervals. He wrote about d'Anconia 
Copper, about the world market, about issues affecting the interests of 
Taggart Transcontinental. His letters were brief, written by hand, usually at 
night . 

She was not unhappy in his absence. She, too, was making her first steps 
toward the control of a future kingdom. Among the leaders of industry, her 
father's friends, she heard it said that one had better watch the young 
d'Anconia heir; if that copper company had been great before, it would sweep 
the world now, under what his management promised to become. She smiled, 
without astonishment. There were moments when she felt a sudden, violent 
longing for him, but it was only impatience, not pain. She dismissed it, in 
the confident knowledge that they were both working toward a future that 
would bring them everything they wanted, including each other. Then his 
letters stopped. 

She was twenty-four on that day of spring when the telephone rang on her 
desk, in an office of the Taggart Building. "Dagny, " said a voice she 
recognized at once, "I'm at the Wayne-Falkland. Come to have dinner with me 
tonight. At seven." He said it without greeting, as if they had parted the 
day before. Because it took her a moment to regain the art of breathing, she 
realized for the first time how much that voice meant to her. "All right . . 
. Francisco," she answered. They needed to say nothing else. She thought, 
replacing the receiver, that his return was natural and as she had always 
expected it to happen, except that she had not expected her sudden need to 
pronounce his name or the stab of happiness she felt while pronouncing it. 

When she entered his hotel room, that evening, she stopped short. 

He stood in the middle of the room, looking at her— and she saw a smile 
that came slowly, involuntarily, as if he had lost the ability to smile and 
were astonished that he should regain it. He looked at her incredulously, not 
quite believing what she was or what he felt. His glance was like a plea, 
like the cry for help of a man who could never cry. At her entrance, he had 
started their old salute, he had started to say, "Hi—" but he did not finish 
it. Instead, after a moment, he said, "You're beautiful, Dagny." He said it 
as if it hurt him. 

"Francisco, I—" 

He shook his head, not to let her pronounce the words they had never said 
to each other— even though they knew that both had said and heard them in that 
moment . 

He approached, he took her in his arms, he kissed her mouth and held her 
for a long time. When she looked up at his face, he was smiling down at her 
confidently, derisively. It was a smile that told her he was in control of 
himself, of her, of everything, and ordered her to forget what she had seen 
in that first moment. "Hi, Slug," he said. 

Feeling certain of nothing except that she must not ask questions, she 
smiled and said, "Hi, Frisco." 

She could have understood any change, but not the things she saw. 

There was no sparkle of life in his face, no hint of amusement; the face 
had become implacable. The plea of his first smile had not been a plea of 
weakness; he had acquired an air of determination that seemed merciless. He 
acted like a man who stood straight, under the weight of an unendurable 
burden. She saw what she could not have believed possible: that there were 
lines of bitterness in his face and that he looked tortured. 

"Dagny, don't be astonished by anything I do," he said, "or by anything I 
may ever do in the future." 

That was the only explanation he granted her, then proceeded to act as if 
there were nothing to explain. 

She could feel no more than a faint anxiety; it was impossible to fee! 

fear for his fate or in his presence. When he laughed, she thought they 
were back in the woods by the Hudson: he had not changed and never would. 

The dinner was served in his room. She found it amusing to face him across 
a table laid out with the icy formality pertaining to excessive cost, in a 
hotel room designed as a European palace. 

The Wayne-Falkland was the most distinguished hotel left on any continent. 
Its style of indolent luxury, of velvet drapes, sculptured panels and 
candlelight, seemed a deliberate contrast to its function: no one could 
afford its hospitality except men who came to New York on business, to settle 
transactions involving the world. She noticed that the manner of the waiters 
who served their dinner suggested a special deference to this particular 
guest of the hotel, and that Francisco did not notice it. He was 
indifferently at home. He had long since become accustomed to the fact that 
he was Senor d'Anconia of d'Anconia Copper. 

But she thought it strange that he did not speak about his work. She had 
expected it to be his only interest, the first thing he would share with her. 
He did not mention it. He led her to talk, instead, about her job, her 
progress, and what she felt for Taggart Transcontinental. She spoke of it as 
she had always spoken to him, in the knowledge that he was the only one who 
could understand her passionate devotion. He made no comment, but he listened 
intently . 

A waiter had turned on the radio for dinner music; they had paid no 
attention to it. But suddenly, a crash of sound jarred the room, almost as if 
a subterranean blast had struck the walls and made them tremble. The shock 
came, not from the loudness, but from the quality of the sounds. It was 
Halley's new Concerto, recently written, the Fourth. 

They sat in silence, listening to the statement of rebellion— the anthem of 
the triumph of the great victims who would refuse to accept pain. Francisco 
listened, looking out at the city. 

Without transition or warning, he asked, his voice oddly unstressed, 
"Dagny, what would you say if I asked you to leave Taggart Transcontinental 
and let it go to hell, as it will when your brother takes over?" 

"What would I say if you asked me to consider the idea of committing 
suicide?" she answered angrily. 

He remained silent. 

"Why did you say that?" she snapped. "I didn't think you'd joke about it. 
It's not like you." 

There was no touch of humor in his face. He answered quietly, gravely, 
"No. Of course. I shouldn't." 

She brought herself to question him about his work. He answered the 
questions; he volunteered nothing. She repeated to him the comments of the 
industrialists about the brilliant prospects of d'Anconia Copper under his 
management. "That's true," he said, his voice lifeless. 

In sudden anxiety, not knowing what prompted her, she asked, "Francisco, 
why did you come to New York?" 

He answered slowly, "To see a friend who called for me, " 

"Business ? " 

Looking past her, as if answering a thought of his own, a faint smile of 
bitter amusement on his face, but his voice strangely soft and sad, he 
answered: "Yes." 

It was long past midnight when she awakened in bed by his side. 

No sounds came from the city below. The stillness of the room made life 
seem suspended for a while. Relaxed in happiness and in complete exhaustion, 
she turned lazily to glance at him. He lay on his back, half propped by a 
pillow. She saw his profile against the foggy glow of the night sky in the 
window. He was awake, his eyes were open. He held his mouth closed like a man 
lying in resignation in unbearable pain, bearing it, making no attempt to 
hide it. 

She was too frightened to move. He felt her glance and turned to her. 

He shuddered suddenly, he threw off the blanket, he looked at her naked 
body, then he fell forward and buried his face between her breasts. He held 
her shoulders, hanging onto her convulsively. She heard the words, muffled, 
his mouth pressed to her skin: "I can't give it up! I can't!" 

"What?" she whispered. 

"You. " 

"Why should-" 

"And everything." 

"Why should you give it up?" 

"Dagny! Help me to remain. To refuse. Even though he's right!" 

She asked evenly, 'To refuse what, Francisco?" 

He did not answer, only pressed his face harder against her. 

She lay very still, conscious of nothing but a supreme need of caution. 

His head on her breast, her hand caressing his hair gently, steadily, she 
lay looking up at the ceiling of the room, at the sculptured garlands faintly 
visible in the darkness, and she waited, numb with terror. 

He moaned, "It's right, but it's so hard to do! Oh God, it's so hard!" 

After a while, he raised his head. He sat up. He had stopped trembling. 

"What is it, Francisco?" 

"I can't tell you." His voice was simple, open, without attempt to 
disguise suffering, but it was a voice that obeyed him now. "You're not ready 
to hear it." 

"I want to help you." 

"You can't." 

"You said, to help you refuse." 
"I can't refuse." 

"Then let me share it with you." 
He shook his head. 

He sat looking down at her, as if weighing a question. Then he shook his 
head again, in answer to himself. 

"If I'm not sure I can stand it," he said, and the strange new note in his 
voice was tenderness, "how could you?" 

She said slowly, with effort, trying to keep herself from screaming, 
"Francisco, I have to know." 

"Will you forgive me? I know you're frightened, and it's cruel. But will 
you do this for me— will you let it go, just let it go, and don't ask me 
anything? " 


"That's all you can do for me. Will you?" 
"Yes, Francisco." 

"Don't be afraid for me. It was just this once. It won't happen to me 
again. It will become much easier . . . later." 
"If I could-" 

"No. Go to sleep, dearest," 

It was the first time he had ever used that word. 

In the morning, he faced her openly, not avoiding her anxious glance, but 
saying nothing about it. She saw both serenity and suffering in the calm of 
his face, an expression like a smile of pain, though he was not smiling. 
Strangely, it made him look younger. He did not look like a man bearing 

torture now, but like a man who sees that which makes the torture worth 
bearing . 

She did not question him. Before leaving, she asked only, "When will I see 
you again?" 

He answered, "I don't know. Don't wait for me, Dagny. Next time we meet, 
you will not want to see me. I will have a reason for the things I'll do. But 
I can't tell you the reason and you will be right to damn me. I am not 
committing the contemptible act of asking you to take me on faith. You have 
to live by your own knowledge and judgment. You will damn me. You will be 
hurt. Try not to let it hurt you too much. Remember that I told you this and 
that it was all I could tell you." 

She heard nothing from him or about him for a year. When she began to hear 
gossip and to read newspaper stories, she did not believe, at first, that 
they referred to Francisco d'Anconia. After a while, she had to believe it. 

She read the story of the party he gave on his yacht, in the harbor of 
Valparaiso; the guests wore bathing suits, and an artificial rain of 
champagne and flower petals kept falling upon the decks throughout the night. 

She read the story of the party he gave at an Algerian desert resort; he 
built a pavilion of thin sheets of ice and presented every woman guest with 
an ermine wrap, as a gift to be worn for the occasion, on condition that they 
remove their wraps, then their evening gowns, then all the rest, in tempo 
with the melting of the walls. 

She read the accounts of the business ventures he undertook at lengthy 
intervals; the ventures were spectacularly successful and ruined his 
competitors, but he indulged in them as in an occasional sport, staging a 
sudden raid, then vanishing from the industrial scene for a year or two, 
leaving d'Anconia Copper to the management of his employees. 

She read the interview where he said, "Why should I wish to make money? I 
have enough to permit three generations of descendants to have as good a time 
as I'm having . " 

She saw him once, at a reception given by an ambassador in New York. He 
bowed to her courteously, he smiled, and he looked at her with a glance in 
which no past existed. She drew him aside. She said only, "Francisco, why?" 
"Why— what?" he asked. She turned away. "I warned you," he said. She did not 
try to see him again. 

She survived it. She was able to survive it, because she did not believe 
in suffering. She faced with astonished indignation the ugly fact of feeling 
pain, and refused to let it matter. Suffering was a senseless accident, it 
was not part of life as she saw it. She would not allow pain to become 
important. She had no name for the kind of resistance she offered, for the 
emotion from which the resistance came; but the words that stood as its 
equivalent in her mind were: It does not count —it is not to be taken 
seriously. She knew these were the words, even in the moments when there was 
nothing left within her but screaming and she wished she could lose the 
faculty of consciousness so that it would not tell her that what could not be 
true was true. Not to be taken seriously— an immovable certainty within her 
kept repeating— 

pain and ugliness are never to be taken seriously. 

She fought it. She recovered. Years helped her to reach the day when she 
could face her memories indifferently, then the day when she felt no 
necessity to face them. It was finished and of no concern to her any longer. 

There had been no other men in her life. She did not know whether this had 
made her unhappy. She had had no time to know. She found the clean, brilliant 
sense of life as she wanted it— in her work. Once, Francisco had given her the 
same sense, a feeling that belonged with her work and in her world. The men 
she had met since were like the men she met at her first ball. 

She had won the battle against her memories. But one form of torture 
remained, untouched by the years, the torture of the word "why?" 

Whatever the tragedy he met, why had Francisco taken the ugliest way of 
escape, as ignoble as the way of some cheap alcoholic? The boy she had known 
could not have become a useless coward. An incomparable mind could not turn 
its ingenuity to the invention of melting ballrooms. Yet he had and did, and 
there was no explanation to make it conceivable and to let her forget him in 
peace. She could not doubt the fact of what he had been; she could not doubt 
the fact of what he had become; yet one made the other impossible. At times, 
she almost doubted her own rationality or the existence of any rationality 
anywhere; but this was a doubt which she did not permit to anyone. Yet there 
was no explanation, no reason, no clue to any conceivable reason —and in all 
the days of ten years she had found no hint of an answer. 

No, she thought— as she walked through the gray twilight, past the' 

windows of abandoned shops, to the Wayne-Falkland Hotel— no, there could be 
no answer. She would not seek it. It did not matter now. 

The remnant of violence, the emotion rising as a thin trembling within 
her, was not for the man she was going to see; it was a cry of protest 
against a sacrilege— against the destruction of what had been greatness. 

In a break between buildings, she saw the towers of the Wayne Falkland. 
She felt a slight jolt, in her lungs and legs, that stopped her for an 
instant. Then she walked on evenly. 

By the time she walked through the marble lobby, to the elevator, then 
down the wide, velvet-carpeted, soundless corridors of the Wayne Falkland, 
she felt nothing but a cold anger that grew colder with every step. 

She was certain of the anger when she knocked at his door. She heard his 
voice, answering, "Come in." She jerked the door open and entered. 

Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastian d'Anconia sat on the floor, 
playing marbles. 

Nobody ever wondered whether Francisco d'Anconia was good-looking or not; 
it seemed irrelevant; when he entered a room, it was impossible to look at 
anyone else. His tall, slender figure had an air of distinction, too 
authentic to be modern, and he moved as if he had a cape floating behind him 
in the wind. People explained him by saying that he had the vitality of a 
healthy animal, but they knew dimly that that was not correct. He had the 
vitality of a healthy human being, a thing so rare that no one could identify 
it. He had the power of certainty. 

Nobody described his appearance as Latin, yet the word applied to him, not 
in its present, but in its original sense, not pertaining to Spain, but to 
ancient Rome. His body seemed designed as an exercise in consistency of 
style, a style made of gauntness, of tight flesh, long legs and swift 
movements. His features had the fine precision of sculpture. His hair was 
black and straight, swept back. The suntan of his skin intensified the 
startling color of his eyes: they were a pure, clear blue. His face was open, 
its rapid changes of expression reflecting whatever he felt, as if he had 
nothing to hide. The blue eyes were still and changeless, never giving a hint 
of what he thought. 

He sat on the floor of his drawing room, dressed in sleeping pajamas of 
thin black silk. The marbles spread on the carpet around him were made of the 
semi-precious stones of his native country: carnelian and rock crystal. He 
did not rise when Dagny entered. He sat looking up at her, and a crystal 
marble fell like a teardrop out of his hand. He smiled, the unchanged, 
insolent, brilliant smile of his childhood. 

"Hi, Slug!" 

She heard herself answering, irresistibly, helplessly, happily: "Hi, 
Frisco ! " 

She was looking at his face; it was the face she had known. It bore no 
mark of the kind of life he had led, nor of what she had seen on their last 
night together. There was no sign of tragedy, no bitterness, no tension— only 
the radiant mockery, matured and stressed, the look of dangerously 
unpredictable amusement, and the great, guiltless serenity of spirit. But 
this, she thought, was impossible; this was more shocking than all the rest. 

His eyes were studying her: the battered coat thrown open, half slipping 
off her shoulders, and the slender body in a gray suit that looked like an 
office uniform. 

"If you came here dressed like this in order not to let me notice how 
lovely you are," he said, "you miscalculated. You're lovely. I wish I could 
tell you what a relief it is to see a face that's intelligent though a 
woman's. But you don't want to hear it. That's not what you came here for." 

The words were improper in so many ways, yet were said so lightly that 
they brought her back to reality, to anger and to the purpose of her visit. 
She remained standing, looking down at him, her face blank, refusing him any 
recognition of the personal, even of its power to offend her. She said, "I 
came here to ask you a question." 

"Go ahead." 

"When you told those reporters that you came to New York to witness the 
farce, which farce did you mean?" 

He laughed aloud, like a man who seldom finds a chance to enjoy the 

"That's what I like about you, Dagny. There are seven million people in 
the city of New York, at present. Out of seven million people, you are the 
only one to whom it could have occurred that I wasn't talking about the Vail 
divorce scandal." 

"What were you talking about?" 

"What alternative occurred to you?" 

"The San Sebastian disaster." 

"That's much more amusing than the Vail divorce scandal, isn't it?" 

She said in the solemn, merciless tone of a prosecutor, "You did it 
consciously, cold-bloodedly and with full intention." 

"Don't you think it would be better if you took your coat off and sat 

She knew she had made a mistake by betraying too much intensity. 

She turned coldly, removed her coat and threw it aside. He did not rise to 
help her. She sat down in an armchair. He remained on the floor, at some 
distance, but it seemed as if he were sitting at her feet. 

"What was it I did with full intention?" he asked. 

"The entire San Sebastian swindle." 

"What was my full intention?" 

"That is what I want to know." 

He chuckled, as if she had asked him to explain in conversation a complex 
science requiring a lifetime of study. 

"You knew that the San Sebastian mines were worthless, " she said. 
"You knew it before you began the whole wretched business." 
"Then why did I begin it?" 

"Don't start telling me that you gained nothing. I know it. I know you 
lost fifteen million dollars of your own money. Yet it was done on purpose." 
"Can you think of a motive that would prompt me to do it?" 
"No. It's inconceivable." 

"Is it? You assume that I have a great mind, a great knowledge and a great 
productive ability, so that anything I undertake must necessarily be 
successful. And then you claim that I had no desire to put out my best effort 
for the People's State of Mexico. Inconceivable, isn't it?" 

"You knew, before you bought that property, that Mexico was in the hands 
of a looters' government. You didn't have to start a mining project for 
them. " 

"No, I didn't have to." 

"You didn't give a damn about that Mexican government, one way or another, 

"You're wrong about that." 

"—because you knew they'd seize those mines sooner or later. What you were 
after is your American stockholders." 

"That's true." He was looking straight at her, he was not smiling, his 
face was earnest. He added, "That's part of the truth." 

"What's the rest?" 

"It was not all I was after." 

"What else?" 

"That's for you to figure out." 

"I came here because I wanted you to know that I am beginning to 
understand your purpose." 

He smiled. "If you did, you wouldn't have come here." 

"That's true. I don't understand and probably never shall. I am merely 
beginning to see part of it." 
"Which part?" 

"You had exhausted every other form of depravity and sought a new thrill 
by swindling people like Jim and his friends, in order to watch them squirm. 
I don't know what sort of corruption could make anyone enjoy that, but that's 
what you came to New York to see, at the right time." 

"They certainly provided a spectacle of squirming on the grand scale. Your 
brother James in particular." 

"They're rotten fools, but in this case their only crime was that they 
trusted you. They trusted your name and your honor." 

Again, she saw the look of earnestness and again knew with certainty that 
it was genuine, when he said, "Yes. They did. I know it." 

"And do you find it amusing?" 

"No. I don't find it amusing at all." 

He had continued playing with his marbles, absently, indifferently, taking 
a shot once in a while. She noticed suddenly the faultless accuracy of his 
aim, the skill of his hands. He merely flicked his wrist and sent a drop of 
stone shooting across the carpet to click sharply against another drop. She 
thought of his childhood and of the predictions that anything he did would be 
done superlatively. 

"No," he said, "I don't find it amusing. Your brother James and his 
friends knew nothing about the copper-mining industry. They knew nothing 
about making money. They did not think it necessary to learn. They considered 
knowledge superfluous and judgment inessential. They observed that there I 
was in the world and that I made it my honor to know. They thought they could 
trust my honor. One does not betray a trust of this kind, does one?" 

"Then you did betray it intentionally?" 

"That's for you to decide. It was you who spoke about their trust and my 
honor. I don't think in such terms any longer. . . ."He shrugged, adding, "I 
don't give a damn about your brother James and his friends. Their theory was 
not new, it has worked for centuries. But it wasn't foolproof. There is just 
one point that they overlooked. They thought it was safe to ride on my brain, 
because they assumed that the goal of my journey was wealth. All their 
calculations rested on the premise that I wanted to make money. What if I 

"If you didn't, what did you want?" 

"They never asked me that. Not to inquire about my aims, motives or 
desires is an essential part of their theory." 

"If you didn't want to make money, what possible motive could you have 

"Any number of them. For instance, to spend it." 
"To spend money on a certain, total failure?" 

"How was I to know that those mines were a certain, total failure?" 

"How could you help knowing it?" 

"Quite simply. By giving it no thought." 

"You started that project without giving it any thought?" 

"No, not exactly. But suppose I slipped up? I'm only human. I made a 
mistake. I failed. I made a bad job of it." He flicked his wrist; a crystal 
marble shot, sparkling, across the floor and cracked violently against a 
brown one at the other end of the room. 

"I don't believe it," she said. 

"No? But haven't I the right to be what is now accepted as human? 
Should I pay for everybody's mistakes and never be permitted one of my 
own ? " 

"That's not like you." 

"No?" He stretched himself full-length on the carpet, lazily, relaxing. 

"Did you intend me to notice that if you think I did it on purpose, then 
you still give me credit for having a purpose? You're still unable to accept 
me as a bum?" 

She closed her eyes. She heard him laughing; it was the gayest sound hi 
the world. She opened her eyes hastily; but there was no hint of cruelty in 
his face, only pure laughter. 

"My motive, Dagny? You don't think that it's the simplest one of all— 

the spur of the moment?" 

No, she thought, no, that's not true; not if he laughed like that, not if 
he looked as he did. The capacity for unclouded enjoyment, she thought, does 
not belong to irresponsible fools; an inviolate peace of spirit is not the 
achievement of a drifter; to be able to laugh like that is the end result of 
the most profound, most solemn thinking. 

Almost dispassionately, looking at his figure stretched on the carpet at 
her feet, she observed what memory it brought back to her: the black pajamas 
stressed the long lines of his body, the open collar showed a smooth, young, 
sunburned skin— and she thought of the figure in black slacks and shirt 
stretched beside her on the grass at sunrise. She had felt pride then, the 
pride of knowing that she owned his body; she still felt it. She remembered 
suddenly, specifically, the excessive acts of their intimacy; the memory 
should have been offensive to her now, but wasn't. It was still pride, 
without regret or hope, an emotion that had no power to reach her and that 
she had no power to destroy. 

Unaccountably, by an association of feeling that astonished her, she 
remembered what had conveyed to her recently the same sense of consummate joy 
as his. 

"Francisco, " she heard herself saying softly, "we both loved the music of 
Richard Halley. ..." 
"I still love it." 
"Have you ever met him?" 
"Yes. Why?" 

"Do you happen to know whether he has written a Fifth Concerto?" 

He remained perfectly still. She had thought him impervious to shock; he 
wasn't. But she could not attempt to guess why of all the things she had 
said, this should be the first to reach him. It was only an instant; then he 
asked evenly, "What makes you think he has?" 

"Well, has he?" 

"You know that there are only four Halley Concertos." 
"Yes. But I wondered whether he had written another one." 

"He has stopped writing." 
"I know." 

"Then what made you ask that?" 

"Just an idle thought. What is he doing now? Where is he?" 
"I don't know. I haven't seen him for a long time. What made you think 
that there was a Fifth Concerto?" 

"I didn't say there was. I merely wondered about it." 
"Why did you think of Richard Halley just now?" 

"Because"— she felt her control cracking a little— "because my mind can't 
make the leap from Richard Halley' s music to ... to Mrs. 
Gilbert Vail." 

He laughed, relieved. "Oh, that? . . . Incidentally, if you've been 
following my publicity, have you noticed a funny little discrepancy in the 
story of Mrs. Gilbert Vail?" 

"I don't read the stuff." 

"You should. She gave such a beautiful description of last New Year's Eve, 
which we spent together in my villa in the Andes. The moonlight on the 
mountain peaks, and the blood-red flowers hanging on vines in the open 
windows. See anything wrong in the picture?" 

She said quietly, "It's I who should ask you that, and I'm not going to." 

"Oh, I see nothing wrong— except that last New Year's Eve I was in El Paso, 
Texas, presiding at the opening of the San Sebastian Line of Taggart 
Transcontinental, as you should remember, even if you didn't choose to be 
present on the occasion. I had my picture taken with my arms around your 
brother James and the Senor Orren Boyle." 

She gasped, remembering that this was true, remembering also that she had 
seen Mrs. Vail's story in the newspapers. 

"Francisco, what . . . what does that mean?" 

He chuckled. "Draw your own conclusions. . . . Dagny"— his face was 
serious— "why did you think of Halley writing a Fifth Concerto? 

Why not a new symphony or opera? Why specifically a concerto?" 
"Why does that disturb you?" 

"It doesn't." He added softly, "I still love his music, Dagny." Then he 
spoke lightly again. "But it belonged to another age. Our age provides a 
different kind of entertainment." 

He rolled over on his back and lay with his hands crossed under his head, 
looking up as if he were watching the scenes of a movie farce unrolling on 
the ceiling. 

"Dagny, didn't you enjoy the spectacle of the behavior of the People's 
State of Mexico in regard to the San Sebastian Mines? Did you read their 
government's speeches and the editorials in their newspapers? 

They're saying that I am an unscrupulous cheat who has defrauded them. 
They expected to have a successful mining concern to seize. I had no right to 
disappoint them like that. Did you read about the scabby little bureaucrat 
who wanted them to sue me?" 

He laughed, lying flat on his back; his arms were thrown wide on the 
carpet, forming a cross with his body; he seemed disarmed, relaxed and young. 

"It was worth whatever it's cost me. I could afford the price of that 
show. If I had staged it intentionally, I would have beaten the record of the 
Emperor Nero. What's burning a city— compared to tearing the lid off hell and 
letting men see it?" 

He raised himself, picked up a few marbles and sat shaking them absently 
in his hand; they clicked with the soft, clear sound of good stone. She 
realized suddenly that playing with those marbles was not a deliberate 
affectation on his part; it was restlessness; he could not remain inactive 
for long. 

"The government of the People's State of Mexico has issued a 
proclamation, " he said, "asking the people to be patient and put up with 
hardships just a little longer. It seems that the copper fortune of the San 
Sebastian Mines was part of the plans of the central planning council. 

It was to raise everybody's standard of living and provide a roast of pork 
every Sunday for every man, woman, child and abortion in the People's State 
of Mexico. Now the planners are asking their people not to blame the 
government, but to blame the depravity of the rich, because I turned out to 
be an irresponsible playboy, instead of the greedy capitalist I was expected 
to be. How were they to know, they're asking, that I would let them down? 
Well, true enough. How were they to know it?" 

She noticed the way he fingered the marbles in his hand. He was not 
conscious of it, he was looking off into some grim distance, but she felt 
certain that the action was a relief to him, perhaps as a contrast. His 
fingers were moving slowly, feeling the texture of the stones with sensual 
enjoyment. Instead of finding it crude, she found it strangely attractive— 

as if, she thought suddenly, as if sensuality were not physical at all, 
but came from a fine discrimination of the spirit. 

"And that's not all they didn't know," he said. "They're in for some more 
knowledge. There's that housing settlement for the workers of San Sebastian. 
It cost eight million dollars. Steel-frame houses, with plumbing, electricity 
and refrigeration. Also a school, a church, a hospital and a movie theater. A 
settlement built for people who had lived in hovels made of driftwood and 
stray tin cans. My reward for building it was to be the privilege of escaping 
with my skin, a special concession due to the accident of my not being a 
native of the People's State of Mexico. That workers' settlement was also 
part of their plans. 

A model example of progressive State housing. Well, those steel-frame 
houses arc mainly cardboard, with a coating of good imitation shellac, They 
won't stand another year. The plumbing pipes— as well as most of our mining 
equipment— were purchased from the dealers whose main source of supply are the 
city dumps of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. I'd give those pipes another 
five months, and the electric system about six. The wonderful roads we graded 
up four thousand feet of rock for the People's State of Mexico, will not last 
beyond a couple of winters: they're cheap cement without foundation, and the 
bracing at the bad turns is just painted clapboard. Wait for one good 
mountain slide. The church, I think, will stand. They'll need it." 

"Francisco," she whispered, "did you do it on purpose?" 

He raised his head; she was startled to see that his face had a look of 
infinite weariness. "Whether I did it on purpose," he said, "or through 
neglect, or through stupidity, don't you understand that that doesn't make 
any difference? The same element was missing." 

She was trembling. Against all her decisions and control, she cried, 
"Francisco! If you see what's happening in the world, if you understand all 
the things you said, you can't laugh about it! You, of all men, you should 
fight them! " 


"The looters, and those who make world-looting possible. The Mexican 
planners and their kind." 

His smile had a dangerous edge. "No, my dear. It's you that I have to 
fight. " 

She looked at him blankly. "What are you trying to say?" 

"I am saying that the workers' settlement of San Sebastian cost eight 
million dollars," he answered with slow emphasis, his voice hard. "The price 
paid for those cardboard houses was the price that could have bought steel 
structures. So was the price paid for every other item. That money went to 
men who grow rich by such methods. Such men do not remain rich for long. The 

money will go into channels which will carry it, not to the most productive, 
but to the most corrupt. By the standards of our time, the man who has the 
least to offer is the man who wins. That money will vanish in projects such 
as the San Sebastian Mines, " 

She asked with effort, "Is that what you're after?" 

"Yes . " 

"Is that what you find amusing?" 

"I am thinking of your name, " she said, while another part of her mind was 
crying to her that reproaches were useless. "It was a tradition of your 
family that a d'Anconia always left a fortune greater than the one he 
received . " 

"Oh yes, my ancestors had a remarkable ability for doing the right thing 
at the right time— and for making the right investments. Of course, 
'investment' is a relative term. It depends on what you wish to accomplish. 
For instance, look at San Sebastian. It cost me fifteen million dollars, but 
these fifteen million wiped out forty million belonging to Taggart 
Transcontinental, thirty-five million belonging to stockholders such as James 
Taggart and Orren Boyle, and hundreds of millions which will be lost in 
secondary consequences. That's not a bad return on an investment, is it, 

She was sitting straight. "Do you realize what you're saying?" 

"Oh, fully! Shall I beat you to it and name the consequences you were 
going to reproach me for? First, I don't think that Taggart Transcontinental 
will recover from its loss on that preposterous San Sebastian Line. You think 
it will, but it won't. Second, the San Sebastian helped your brother James to 
destroy the Phoenix-Durango, which was about the only good railroad left 
anywhere . " 

"You realize all that?" 

"And a great deal more." 

"Do you"— she did not know why she had to say it, except that the memory of 
the face with the dark, violent eyes seemed to stare at her— 
"do you know Ellis Wyatt?" 
"Sure. " 

"Do you know what this might do to him?" 

"Yes. He's the one who's going to be wiped out next." 

"Do you . . . find that . . . amusing?" 

"Much more amusing than the ruin of the Mexican planners." 

She stood up. She had called him corrupt for years; she had feared it, she 
had thought about it, she had tried to forget it and never think of it again; 
but she had never suspected how far the corruption had gone. 

She was not looking at him; she did not know that she was saying it aloud, 
quoting his words of the past: ". . . who'll do greater honor, you— to Nat 
Taggart, or I— to Sebastian d'Anconia . . ." 

"But didn't you realize that I named those mines in honor of my great 
ancestor? I think it was a tribute which he would have liked." 

It took her a moment to recover her eyesight; she had never known what was 
meant by blasphemy or what one felt on encountering it; she knew it now. 

He had risen and stood courteously, smiling down at her; it was a cold 
smile, impersonal and unrevealing. 

She was trembling, but it did not matter. She did not care what he saw or 
guessed or laughed at. 

"I came here because I wanted to know the reason for what you've done with 
your life," she said tonelessly, without anger. 

"I have told you the reason," he answered gravely, "but you don't want to 
believe it . " 

"I kept seeing you as you were. I couldn't forget it. And that you should 
have become what you are— that does not belong in a rational universe." 
"No? And the world as you see it around you, does?" 

"You were not the kind of man who gets broken by any kind of world" 

"True. " 


He shrugged. "Who is John Gait?" 
"Oh, don't use gutter language!" 

He glanced at her. His lips held the hint of a smile, but his eyes were 
still, earnest and, for an instant, disturbingly perceptive. 
"Why?" she repeated. 

He answered, as he had answered in the night, in this hotel, ten years 
ago, "You're not ready to hear it." 

He did not follow her to the door. She had put her hand on the doorknob 
when she turned— and stopped. He stood across the room, looking at her; it was 
a glance directed at her whole person; she knew its meaning and it held her 
motionless, "I still want to sleep with you," he said. "But I am not a man 
who is happy enough to do it." 

"Not happy enough?" she repeated in complete bewilderment. 

He laughed. "Is it proper that that should be the first thing you'd 
answer?" He waited, but she remained silent. "You want it, too, don't you?" 

She was about to answer "No, " but realized that the truth was worse than 
that. "Yes," she answered coldly, "but it doesn't matter to me that I want 
it. " 

He smiled, in open appreciation, acknowledging the strength she had needed 
to say it. 

But he was not smiling when he said, as she opened the door to leave, "You 
have a great deal of courage, Dagny. Some day, you'll have enough of it." 
"Of what? Courage?" 
But he did not answer. 


Rearden pressed his forehead to the mirror and tried not to think. That 
was the only way he could go through with it, he told himself. 

He concentrated on the relief of the mirror's cooling touch, wondering how 
one went about forcing one's mind into blankness, particularly after a 
lifetime lived on the axiom that the constant, clearest, most ruthless 
function of his rational faculty was his foremost duty. He wondered why no 
effort had ever seemed beyond his capacity, yet now he could not scrape up 
the strength to stick a few black pearl studs into his starched white shirt 
front . 

This was his wedding anniversary and he had known for three months that 
the party would take place tonight, as Lillian wished. 

He had promised it to her, safe in the knowledge that the party was a long 
way off and that he would attend to it, when the time came, as he attended to 
every duty on his overloaded schedule. Then, during three months of eighteen- 
hour workdays, he had forgotten it happily— until half an hour ago, when, long 
past dinner time, his secretary had entered his office and said firmly, "Your 
party, Mr. Rearden." He had cried, "Good God!" leaping to his feet; he had 
hurried home, rushed up the stairs, started tearing his clothes off and gone 
through the routine of dressing, conscious only of the need to hurry, not of 
the purpose. 

When the full realization of the purpose struck him like a sudden blow, he 
stopped . 

"You don't care for anything but business." He had heard it all his life, 
pronounced as a verdict of damnation. He had always known that business was 
regarded as some sort of secret, shameful cult, which one did not impose on 
innocent laymen, that people thought of it as of an ugly necessity, to be 
performed but never mentioned, that to talk shop was an offense against 
higher sensibilities, that just as one washed machine grease off one's hands 
before coming home, so one was supposed to wash the stain of business off 
one's mind before entering a drawing room. He had never held that creed, but 
he had accepted it as natural that his family should hold it. He took it for 
granted— wordlessly, in the manner of a feeling absorbed in childhood, left 
unquestioned and unnamed— that he had dedicated himself, like the martyr of 
some dark religion, to the service of a faith which was his passionate love, 
but which made him an outcast among men, whose sympathy he was not to expect. 

He had accepted the tenet that it was his duty to give his wife some form 
of existence unrelated to business. But he had never found the capacity to do 
it or even to experience a sense of guilt. He could neither force himself to 
change nor blame her if she chose to condemn him. 

He had given Lillian none of his time for months— :no, he thought, for 
years; for the eight years of their marriage. He had no interest to spare for 
her interests, not even enough to learn just what they were. 

She had a large circle of friends, and he had heard it said that their 
names represented the heart of the country's culture, but he had never had 
time to meet them or even to acknowledge their fame by knowing what 
achievements had earned it. He knew only that he often saw their names on the 
magazine covers on newsstands. If Lillian resented his attitude, he thought, 
she was right. If her manner toward him was objectionable, he deserved it. If 
his family called him heartless, it was true. 

He had never spared himself in any issue. When a problem came up at the 
mills, his first concern was to discover what error he had made; he did not 
search for anyone's fault but his own; it was of himself that he demanded 
perfection. He would grant himself no mercy now; he took the blame. But at 

the mills, it prompted him to action in an immediate impulse to correct the 
error; now, it had no effect. . . . Just a few more minutes, he thought, 
standing against the mirror, his eyes closed. 

He could not stop the thing in his mind that went on throwing words at 
him; it was like trying to plug a broken hydrant with his bare hands. 

Stinging jets, part words, part pictures, kept shooting at his brain. . . 

Hours of it, he thought, hours to spend watching the eyes of the guests 
getting heavy with boredom if they were sober or glazing into an imbecile 
stare if they weren't, and pretend that he noticed neither, and strain to 
think of something to say to them, when he had nothing to say —while he 
needed hours of inquiry to find a successor for the superintendent of his 
rolling mills who had resigned suddenly, without explanation— he had to do it 
at once— men of that sort were so hard to find— and if anything happened to 
break the flow of the rolling mills— it was the Taggart rail that was being 
rolled. ... He remembered the silent reproach, the look of accusation, 
long-bearing patience and scorn, which he always saw in the eyes of his 
family when they caught some evidence of his passion for his business— and the 
futility of his silence, of his hope that they would not think Rearden Steel 
meant as much to him as it did— like a drunkard pretending indifference to 
liquor, among people who watch him with the scornful amusement of their full 
knowledge of his shameful weakness. ... "I heard you last night coming home 
at two in the morning, where were you?" his mother saying to him at the 
dinner table, and Lillian answering, "Why, at the mills, of course," as 
another wife would say, "At the corner saloon." . . . Or Lillian asking him, 
the hint of a wise half-smile on her face, "What were you doing in New York 
yesterday?" "It was a banquet with the boys." "Business?" "Yes." "Of course"— 
and Lillian turning away, nothing more, except the shameful realization that 
he had almost hoped she would think he had attended some sort of obscene stag 
party. . . . 

An ore carrier had gone down in a storm on Lake Michigan, with thousands 
of tons of Rearden ore— those boats were falling apart— if he didn't take it 
upon himself to help them obtain the replacements they needed, the owners of 
the line would go bankrupt, and there was no other line left in operation on 
Lake Michigan. . . . "That nook?" 

said Lillian, pointing to an arrangement of settees and coffee tables in 
their drawing room. "Why, no, Henry, it's not new, but I suppose I should 
feel flattered that three weeks is all it took you to notice it. It's my own 
adaptation of the morning room of a famous French palace —but things like 
that can't possibly interest you, darling, there's no stock market quotation 
on them, none whatever." . . . The order for copper, which he had placed six 
months ago, had not been delivered, the promised date had been postponed 
three tunes— "We can't help it, Mr. Rearden"— he had to find another company to 
deal with, the supply of copper was becoming increasingly uncertain. . . . 
Philip did not smile, when he looked up in the midst of a speech he was 
making to some friend of their mother's, about some organization he had 
joined, but there was something that suggested a smile of superiority in the 
loose muscles of his face when he said, "No, you wouldn't care for this, it's 
not business, Henry, not business at all, it's a strictly non-commercial 
endeavor." . . . That contractor in Detroit, with the job of rebuilding a 
large factory, was considering structural shapes of Rearden Metal —he should 
fly to Detroit and speak to him in person— he should have done it a week ago— 
he could have done it tonight. . . . "You're not listening," said his mother 
at the breakfast table, when his mind wandered to the current coal price 
index, while she was telling him about the dream she'd had last night. 
"You've never listened to a living soul. 

You're not interested in anything but yourself. You don't give a damn 
about people, not about a single human creature on God's earth." 

. . . The typed pages lying on the desk in his office were a report on the 
tests of an airplane motor made of Rearden Metal— perhaps of all things on 
earth, the one he wanted most at this moment was to read it- 
it had lain on his desk, untouched, for three days, he had had no time for 
it— why didn't he do it now and— 

He shook his head violently, opening his eyes, stepping back from the 
mirror . 

He tried to reach for the shirt studs. He saw his hand reaching, instead, 
for the pile of mail on his dresser. It was mail picked as urgent, it had to 
be read tonight, but he had had no time to read it in the office. 

His secretary had stuffed it into his pocket on his way out. He had thrown 
it there while undressing. 

A newspaper clipping fluttered down to the floor. It was an editorial 
which his secretary had marked with an angry stash in red pencil. It was 
entitled "Equalization of Opportunity." He had to read it: there had been too 
much talk about this issue in the last three months, ominously too much, He 
read it, with the sound of voices and forced laughter coming from downstairs, 
reminding him that the guests were arriving, that the party had started and 
that he would face the bitter, reproachful glances of his family when he came 
down . 

The editorial said that at a time of dwindling production, shrinking 
markets and vanishing opportunities to make a living, it was unfair to let 
one man hoard several business enterprises, while others had none; it was 
destructive to let a few corner all the resources, leaving others no chance; 
competition was essential to society, and it was society's duty to see that 
no competitor ever rose beyond the range of anybody who wanted to compete 
with him. The editorial predicted the passage of a bill which had been 
proposed, a bill forbidding any person or corporation to own more than one 
business concern. 

Wesley Mouch, his Washington man, had told Rearden not to worry; the fight 
would be stiff, he had said, but the bill would be defeated. 

Rearden understood nothing about that kind of fight. He left it to Mouch 
and his staff. He could barely find time to skim through the reports from 
Washington and to sign the checks which Mouch requested for the battle. 

Rearden did not believe that the bill would pass. He was incapable of 
believing it. Having dealt with the clean reality of metals, technology, 
production all his life, he had acquired the conviction that one had to 
concern oneself with the rational, not the insane— that one had to seek that 
which was right, because the right answer always won— that the senseless, the 
wrong, the monstrously unjust could not work, could not succeed, could do 
nothing but defeat itself. A battle against a thing such as that bill seemed 
preposterous and faintly embarrassing to him, as if he were suddenly asked to 
compete with a man who calculated steel mixtures by the formulas of 
numerology . 

He had told himself that the issue was dangerous. But the loudest 
screaming of the most hysterical editorial roused no emotion in him— 

while a variation of a decimal point in a laboratory report on a test of 
Rearden Metal made him leap to his feet in eagerness or apprehension. 

He had no energy to spare for anything else. 

He crumpled the editorial and threw it into the wastebasket. He felt the 
leaden approach of that exhaustion which he never felt at his job, the 
exhaustion that seemed to wait for him and catch him the moment he turned to 
other concerns. He felt as if he were incapable of any desire except a 
desperate longing for sleep, He told himself that he had to attend the party— 

that his family had the right to demand it of him— that he had to learn to 
like their kind of pleasure, for their sake, not his own. 

He wondered why this was a motive that had no power to impel him. 
Throughout his life, whenever he became convinced that a course of action was 
right, the desire to follow it had come automatically. What was happening to 
him?— he wondered. The impossible conflict of feeling reluctance to do that 
which was right— wasn't it the basic formula of moral corruption? To recognize 
one's guilt, yet feel nothing but the coldest, most profound indifference— 
wasn't it a betrayal of that which had been the motor of his life-course and 
of his pride? 

He gave himself no time to seek an answer. He finished dressing, quickly, 
pitilessly . 

Holding himself erect, his tall figure moving with the unstressed, 
unhurried confidence of habitual authority, the white of a fine handkerchief 
in the breast pocket of his black dinner jacket, he walked slowly down the 
stairs to the drawing room, looking— to the satisfaction of the dowagers who 
watched him— like the perfect figure of a great industrialist. 

He saw Lillian at the foot of the stairs. The patrician lines of a lemon- 
yellow Empire evening gown stressed her graceful body, and she stood like a 
person proudly in control of her proper background. 

He smiled; he liked to see her happy; it gave some reasonable 
justification to the party. 

He approached her— and stopped. She had always shown good taste in her use 
of jewelry, never wearing too much of it. But tonight she wore an 
ostentatious display: a diamond necklace, earrings, rings and brooches. Her 
arms looked conspicuously bare by contrast. On her right wrist, as sole 
ornament, she wore the bracelet of Rearden Metal. The glittering gems made it 
look like an ugly piece of dime-store jewelry. 

When he moved his glance from her wrist to her face, he found her looking 
at him. Her eyes were narrowed and he could not define their expression; it 
was a look that seemed both veiled and purposeful, the look of something 
hidden that flaunted its security from detection. 

He wanted to tear the bracelet off her wrist. Instead, in obedience to her 
voice gaily pronouncing an introduction, he bowed to the dowager who stood 
beside her, his face expressionless. 

"Man? What is man? He's just a collection of chemicals with delusions of 
grandeur," said Dr. Pritchett to a group of guests across the room. 

Dr. Pritchett picked a canape off a crystal dish, held it speared between 
two straight fingers and deposited it whole into his mouth. 

"Man's metaphysical pretensions," he said, "are preposterous. A miserable 
bit of protoplasm, full of ugly little concepts and mean little emotions— and 
it imagines itself important! Really, you know, that is the root of all the 
troubles in the world." 

"But which concepts are not ugly or mean, Professor?" asked an earnest 
matron whose husband owned an automobile factory. 

"None," said Dr. Pritchett, "None within the range of man's capacity." 

A young man asked hesitantly, "But if we haven't any good concepts, how do 
we know that the ones we've got are ugly? I mean, by what standard?" 

"There aren't any standards." 

This silenced his audience. 

"The philosophers of the past were superficial," Dr. Pritchett went on. 
"It remained for our century to redefine the purpose of philosophy. 

The purpose of philosophy is not to help men find the meaning of life, but 
to prove to them that there isn't any." 

An attractive young woman, whose father owned a coal mine, asked 
indignantly, "Who can tell us that?" 

"I am trying to," said Dr. Pritchett. For the last three years, he had 
been head of the Department of Philosophy at the Patrick Henry University. 

Lillian Rearden approached, her jewels glittering under the lights. 

The expression on her face was held to the soft hint of a smile, set and 
faintly suggested, like the waves of her hair. 

"It is this insistence of man upon meaning that makes him so difficult, " 
said Dr. Pritchett. "Once he realizes that he is of no importance whatever in 
the vast scheme of the universe, that no possible significance can be 
attached to his activities, that it does not matter whether he lives or dies, 
he will become much more . . . tractable." 

He shrugged and reached for another canape", A businessman said uneasily, 
"What I asked you about, Professor, was what you thought about the 
Equalization of Opportunity Bill." 

"Oh, that?" said Dr. Pritchett. "But I believe I made it clear that I am 
in favor of it, because I am in favor of a free economy. A free economy 
cannot exist without competition. Therefore, men must be forced to compete. 
Therefore, we must control men in order to force them to be free." 

"But, look . . . isn't that sort of a contradiction?" 

"Not in the higher philosophical sense. You must learn to see beyond the 
static definitions of old-fashioned thinking. Nothing is static in the 
universe. Everything is fluid." 

"But it stands to reason that if—" 

"Reason, my dear fellow, is the most naive of all superstitions. That, at 
least, has been generally conceded in our age, " 
"But I don't quite understand how we can—" 

"You suffer from the popular delusion of believing that things can be 
understood. You do not grasp the fact that the universe is a solid 
contradiction. " 

"A contradiction of what?" asked the matron. 

"Of itself." 

"How . . . how's that?" 

"My dear madam, the duty of thinkers is not to explain, but to demonstrate 
that nothing can be explained." 

"Yes, of course . . . only . , , " 

"The purpose of philosophy is not to seek knowledge, but to prove that 
knowledge is impossible to man." 

"But when we prove it," asked the young woman, "what's going to be left?" 
"Instinct," said Dr. Pritchett reverently. 

At the other end of the room, a group was listening to Balph Eubank. He 
sat upright on the edge of an armchair, in order to counteract the appearance 
of his face and figure, which had a tendency to spread if relaxed. 

"The literature of the past," said Balph Eubank, "was a shallow fraud. It 
whitewashed life in order to please the money tycoons whom it served. 
Morality, free will, achievement, happy endings, and man as some sort of 
heroic being— all that stuff is laughable to us. Our age has given depth to 
literature for the first time, by exposing the real essence of life, " 

A very young girl in a white evening gown asked timidly, "What is the real 
essence of life, Mr. Eubank?" 

"Suffering," said Balph Eubank. "Defeat and suffering." 

"But . . . but why? People are happy . . . sometimes . . . aren't they?" 

"That is a delusion of those whose emotions are superficial." 

The girl blushed. A wealthy woman who had inherited an oil refinery, asked 
guiltily, "What should we do to raise the people's literary taste, Mr. 

"That is a great social problem," said Balph Eubank. He was described as 
the literary leader of the age, but had never written a book that sold more 

than three thousand copies. "Personally, I believe that an Equalization of 
Opportunity Bill applying to literature would be the solution." 

"Oh, do you approve of that Bill for industry? I'm not sure I know what to 
think of it." 

"Certainly, I approve of it. Our culture has sunk into a bog of 
materialism. Men have lost all spiritual values in their pursuit of material 
production and technological trickery. They're too comfortable. They will 
return to a nobler life if we teach them to bear privations. So we ought to 
place a limit upon their material greed." 

"I hadn't thought of it that way," said the woman apologetically. 

"But how are you going to work an Equalization of Opportunity Bill for 
literature, Ralph?" asked Mort Liddy. "That's a new one on me." 

"My name is Balph, " said Eubank angrily. "And it's a new one on you 
because it's my own idea." 

"Okay, okay, I'm not quarreling, am I? I'm just asking." Mort Liddy 
smiled. He spent most of his time smiling nervously. He was a composer who 
wrote old-fashioned scores for motion pictures, and modern symphonies for 
sparse audiences. 

"It would work very simply," said Balph Eubank. "There should be a law 
limiting the sale of any book to ten thousand copies. This would throw the 
literary market open to new talent, fresh ideas and non-commercial writing. 
If people were forbidden to buy a million copies of the same piece of trash, 
they would be forced to buy better books." 

"You've got something there," said Mort Liddy. "But wouldn't it be kinda 
tough on the writers' bank accounts?" 

"So much the better. Only those whose motive is not money-making should be 
allowed to write." 

"But, Mr. Eubank," asked the young girl in the white dress, "what if more 
than ten thousand people want to buy a certain book?" 
"Ten thousand readers is enough for any book." 
"That's not what I mean. I mean, what if they want it?" 
"That is irrelevant." 

"But if a book has a good story which—" 

"Plot is a primitive vulgarity in literature, " said Balph Eubank 

Dr. Pritchett, on his way across the room to the bar, stopped to say, 
"Quite so. Just as logic is a primitive vulgarity in philosophy." 

"Just as melody is a primitive vulgarity in music, " said Mort Liddy. 

"What's all this noise?" asked Lillian Rearden, glittering to a stop 
beside them. 

"Lillian, my angel," Balph Eubank drawled, "did I tell you that I'm 
dedicating my new novel to you?" 
"Why. thank you, darling." 

"What is the name of your new novel?" asked the wealthy woman. 
"The Heart Is a Milkman." 
"What is it about?" 
"Frustration . " 

"But, Mr. Eubank," asked the young girl in the white dress, blushing 
desperately, "if everything is frustration, what is there to live for?" 
"Brother-love, " said Balph Eubank grimly. 

Bertram Scudder stood slouched against the bar. His long, thin face looked 
as if it had shrunk inward, with the exception of his mouth and eyeballs, 
which were left to protrude as three soft globes. He was the editor of a 
magazine called The Future and he had written an article on Hank Rearden, 
entitled "The Octopus." 

Bertram Scudder picked up his empty glass and shoved it silently toward 
the bartender, to be refilled. He took a gulp from his fresh drink, noticed 

the empty glass in front of Philip Rearden, who stood beside him, and jerked 
his thumb in a silent command to the bartender. He ignored the empty glass in 
front of Betty Pope, who stood at Philip's other side. 

"Look, bud, " said Bertram Scudder, his eyeballs focused approximately in 
the direction of Philip, "whether you like it or not, the Equalization of 
Opportunity Bill represents a great step forward." 

"What made you think that I did not like it, Mr. Scudder?" Philip asked 
humbly . 

"Well, it's going to pinch, isn't it? The long arm of society is going to 
trim a little off the hors d'oeuvres bill around here." He waved his hand at 
the bar. 

"Why do you assume that I object to that?" 

"You don't?" Bertram Scudder asked without curiosity. 

"I don't!" said Philip hotly. "I have always placed the public good above 
any personal consideration. I have contributed my time and money to Friends 
of Global Progress in their crusade for the Equalization of Opportunity Bill. 
I think it is perfectly unfair that one man should get all the breaks and 
leave none to others." 

Bertram Scudder considered him speculatively, but without particular 
interest. "Well, that's quite unusually nice of you," he said. 

"Some people do take moral issues seriously, Mr. Scudder," said Philip, 
with a gentle stress of pride in his voice. 

"What's he talking about, Philip?" asked Betty Pope. "We don't know 
anybody who owns more than one business, do we?" 

"Oh, pipe down!" said Bertram Scudder, his voice bored. 

"I don't see why there's so much fuss about that Equalization of 
Opportunity Bill, " said Betty Pope aggressively, in the tone of an expert on 
economics. "I don't see why businessmen object to it. It's to their own 
advantage. If everybody else is poor, they won't have any market for their 
goods. But if they stop being selfish and share the goods they've hoarded— 
they'll have a chance to work hard and produce some more." 

"I do not see why industrialists should be considered at all," said 
Scudder. "When the masses are destitute and yet there are goods available, 
it's idiotic to expect people to be stopped by some scrap of paper called a 
property deed. Property rights are a superstition. One holds property only by 
the courtesy of those who do not seize it. The people can seize it at any 
moment. If they can, why shouldn't they?" 

"They should," said Claude Slagenhop. "They need it. Need is the only 
consideration. If people are in need, we've got to seize things first and 
talk about it afterwards." 

Claude Slagenhop had approached and managed to squeeze himself between 
Philip and Scudder, shoving Scudder aside imperceptibly. 

Slagenhop was not tall or heavy, but he had a square, compact bulk, and a 
broken nose. He was the president of Friends of Global Progress. 

"Hunger won't wait," said Claude Slagenhop. "Ideas are just hot air. 

An empty belly is a solid fact. I've said in all my speeches that it's not 
necessary to talk too much. Society is suffering for lack of business 
opportunities at the moment, so we've got the right to seize such 
opportunities as exist. Right is whatever 's good for society." 

"He didn't dig that ore single-handed, did he?" cried Philip suddenly, his 
voice shrill. "He had to employ hundreds of workers. They did it. 

Why does he think he's so good?" 

The two men looked at him, Scudder lifting an eyebrow, Slagenhop without 
expression . 

"Oh, dear me!" said Betty Pope, remembering. 

Hank Rearden stood at a window in a dim recess at the end of the drawing 
room. He hoped no one would notice him for a few minutes. 

He had just escaped from a middle-aged woman who had been telling him 
about her psychic experiences. He stood, looking out. Far in the distance, 
the red glow of Rearden Steel moved in the sky. He watched it for a moment's 
relief . 

He turned to look at the drawing room. He had never liked his house; it 
had been Lillian's choice. But tonight, the shifting colors of the evening 
dresses drowned out the appearance of the room and gave it an air of 
brilliant gaiety. He liked to see people being gay, even though he did not 
understand this particular manner of enjoyment. 

He looked at the flowers, at the sparks of light on the crystal glasses, 
at the naked arms and shoulders of women. There was a cold wind outside, 
sweeping empty stretches of land. He saw the thin branches of a tree being 
twisted, like arms waving in an appeal for help. 

The tree stood against the glow of the mills. 

He could not name his sudden emotion. He had no words to state its cause, 
its quality, its meaning. Some part of it was joy, but it was solemn like the 
act of baring one's head— he did not know to whom. 

When he stepped back into the crowd, he was smiling. But the smile 
vanished abruptly; he saw the entrance of a new guest: it was Dagny Taggart. 

Lillian moved forward to meet her, studying her with curiosity. They had 
met before, on infrequent occasions, and she found it strange to see Dagny 
Taggart wearing an evening gown. It was a black dress with a bodice that fell 
as a cape over one arm and shoulder, leaving the other bare; the naked 
shoulder was the gown's only ornament. Seeing her in the suits she wore, one 
never thought of Dagny Taggart ' s body. The black dress seemed excessively 
revealing— because it was astonishing to discover that the lines of her 
shoulder were fragile and beautiful, and that the diamond band on the wrist 
of her naked arm gave her the most feminine of all aspects: the look of being 
chained . 

"Miss Taggart, it is such a wonderful surprise to see you here, " said 
Lillian Rearden, the muscles of her face performing the motions of a smile. 
"I had not really dared to hope that an invitation' from me would take you 
away from your ever so much weightier concerns. Do permit me to feel 
flattered. " 

James Taggart had entered with his sister. Lillian smiled at him, in the 
manner of a hasty postscript, as if noticing him for the first time. 

"Hello, James. That's your penalty for being popular— one tends to lose 
sight of you in the surprise of seeing your sister." 

"No one can match you in popularity, Lillian, " he answered, smiling 
thinly, "nor ever lose sight of you." 

"Me? Oh, but I am quite resigned to taking second place in the shadow of 
my husband. I am humbly aware that the wife of a great man has to be 
contented with reflected glory— don't you think so, Miss Taggart?" 

"No," said Dagny, "I don't." 

"Is this a compliment or a reproach, Miss Taggart? But do forgive me if I 
confess I'm helpless. Whom may I present to you? I'm afraid I have nothing 
but writers and artists to offer, and they wouldn't interest you, I'm sure." 

"I'd like to find Hank and say hello to him." 

"But of course. James, do you remember you said you wanted to meet Balph 
Eubank?— oh yes, he's here— I'll tell him that I heard you rave about his last 
novel at Mrs. Whitcomb's dinner!" 

Walking across the room, Dagny wondered why she had said that she wanted 
to find Hank Rearden, what had prevented her from admitting that she had seen 
him the moment she entered. 

Rearden stood at the other end of the long room, looking at her. 

He watched her as she approached, but he did not step forward to meet her. 

"Hello, Hank." 

"Good evening." 

He bowed, courteously, impersonally, the movement of his body matching the 
distinguished formality of his clothes. He did not smile. 
"Thank you for inviting me tonight," she said gaily. 
"I cannot claim that I knew you were coming." 

"Oh? Then I'm glad that Mrs. Rearden thought of me. I wanted to make an 
exception . " 

"An exception?" 

"I don't go to parties very often." 

"I am pleased that you chose this occasion as the exception." He did not 
add "Miss Taggart, " but it sounded as if he had. 

The formality of his manner was so unexpected that she was unable to 
adjust to it. "I wanted to celebrate," she said. 

"To celebrate my wedding anniversary?" 

"Oh, is it your wedding anniversary? I didn't know. My congratulations, 
Hank. " 

"What did you wish to celebrate?" 

"I thought I'd permit myself a rest. A celebration of my own— in your honor 
and mine . " 

"For what reason?" 

She was thinking of the new track on the rocky grades of the Colorado 
mountains, growing slowly toward the distant goal of the Wyatt oil fields. 
She was seeing the greenish-blue glow of the rails on the frozen ground, 
among the dried weeds, the naked boulders, the rotting shanties of half- 
starved settlements. 

"In honor of the first sixty miles of Rearden Metal track," she answered. 

"I appreciate it." The tone of his voice was the one that would have been 
proper if he had said, "I've never heard of it." 

She found nothing else to say. She felt as if she were speaking to a 
stranger . 

"Why, Miss Taggart!" a cheerful voice broke their silence. "Now this is 
what I mean when I say that Hank Rearden can achieve any miracle!" 

A businessman whom they knew had approached, smiling at her in delighted 
astonishment. The three of them had often held emergency conferences about 
freight rates and steel deliveries. Now he looked at her, his face an open 
comment on the change in her appearance, the change, she thought, which 
Rearden had not noticed. 

She laughed, answering the man's greeting, giving herself no time to 
recognize the unexpected stab of disappointment, the unadmitted thought that 
she wished she had seen this look on Rearden 's face, instead. She exchanged a 
few sentences with the man. When she glanced around, Rearden was gone. 

"So that is your famous sister?" said Balph Eubank to James Taggart, 
looking at Dagny across the room. 

"I was not aware that my sister was famous," said Taggart, a faint bite in 
his voice. 

"But, my good man, she's an unusual phenomenon in the field of economics, 
so you must expect people to talk about her. Your sister is a symptom of the 
illness of our century. A decadent product of the machine age. Machines have 
destroyed man's humanity, taken him away from the soil, robbed him of his 
natural arts, killed his soul and turned him into an insensitive robot. 
There's an example of it— a woman who runs a railroad, instead of practicing 
the beautiful craft of the handloom and bearing children." 

Rearden moved among the guests, trying not to be trapped into 
conversation. He looked at the room; he saw no one he wished to approach. 

"Say, Hank Rearden, you're not such a bad fellow at all when seen close up 
in the lion's own den. You ought to give us a press conference once in a 
while, you'd win us over." 

Rearden turned and looked at the speaker incredulously. It was a young 
newspaperman of the seedier sort, who worked on a radical tabloid. The 
offensive familiarity of his manner seemed to imply that he chose to be rude 
to Rearden because he knew that Rearden should never have permitted himself 
to associate with a man of his kind. 

Rearden would not have allowed him inside the mills; but the man was 
Lillian's guest; he controlled himself; he asked dryly, "What do you want?" 

"You're not so bad. You've got talent. Technological talent. But, of 
course, I don't agree with you about Rearden Metal." 

"I haven't asked you to agree." 

"Well, Bertram Scudder said that your policy—" the man started 
belligerently, pointing toward the bar, but stopped, as if he had slid 
farther than he intended. 

Rearden looked at the untidy figure slouched against the bar. Lillian had 
introduced them, but he had paid no attention to the name. He turned sharply 
and walked off, in a manner that forbade the young bum to tag him. 

Lillian glanced up at his face, when Rearden approached her in the midst 
of a group, and, without a word, stepped aside where they could not be heard. 

"Is that Scudder of The Future?" he asked, pointing. 

"Why, yes." 

He looked at her silently, unable to begin to believe it, unable to find 
the lead of a thought with which to begin to understand. Her eyes were 
watching him. 

"How could you invite him here?" he asked. 

"Now, Henry, don't let's be ridiculous. You don't want to be narrow 
minded, do you? You must learn to tolerate the opinions of others and respect 
their right of free speech." 

"In my house?" 

"Oh, don't be stuffy!" 

He did not speak, because his consciousness was held, not by coherent 
statements, but by two pictures that seemed to glare at him insistently. 

He saw the article, "The Octopus," by Bertram Scudder, which was not an 
expression of ideas, but a bucket of slime emptied in public— an article that 
did not contain a single fact, not even an invented one, but poured a stream 
of sneers and adjectives in which nothing was clear except the filthy malice 
of denouncing without considering proof necessary. And he saw the lines of 
Lillian's profile, the proud purity which he had sought in marrying her. 

When he noticed her again, he realized that the vision of her profile was 
in his own mind, because she was turned to him full-face, watching him. In 
the sudden instant of returning to reality, he thought that what he saw in 
her eyes was enjoyment. But in the next instant he reminded himself that he 
was sane and that this was not possible. 

"It's the first time you've invited that . . ." he used an obscene word 
with unemotional precision, "to my house. It's the last." 

"How dare you use such—" 

"Don't argue, Lillian. If you do, I'll throw him out right now." 

He gave her a moment to answer, to object, to scream at him if she wished. 
She remained silent, not looking at him, only her smooth cheeks seemed 
faintly drawn inward, as if deflated. 

Moving blindly away through the coils of lights, voices and perfume, he 
felt a cold touch of dread. He knew that he should think of Lillian and find 
the answer to the riddle of her character, because this was a revelation 
which he could not ignore; but he did not think of her— and he felt the dread 
because he knew that the answer had ceased to matter to him long ago. 

The flood of weariness was starting to rise again. He felt as if he could 
almost see it in thickening waves; it was not within him, but outside, 
spreading through the room. For an instant, he felt as if he were alone, lost 

in a gray desert, needing help and knowing that no help would come, He 
stopped short. In the lighted doorway, the length of the room between them, 
he saw the tall, arrogant figure of a man who had paused for a moment before 
entering. He had never met the man, but of all the notorious faces that 
cluttered the pages of newspapers, this was the one he despised. It was 
Francisco d'Anconia. 

Rearden had never given much thought to men like Bertram Scudder. 

But with every hour of his life, with the strain and the pride of every 
moment when his muscles or his mind had ached from effort, with every step he 
had taken to rise out of the mines of Minnesota and to turn his effort into 
gold, with all of his profound respect for money and for its meaning, he 
despised the squanderer who did not know how to deserve the great gift of 
inherited wealth. There, he thought, was the most contemptible representative 
of the species. 

He saw Francisco d'Anconia enter, bow to Lillian, then walk into the crowd 
as if he owned the room which he had never entered before. 

Heads turned to watch him, as if he pulled them on strings in his wake. 

Approaching Lillian once more, Rearden said without anger, the contempt 
becoming amusement in his voice, "I didn't know you knew that one." 

"I've met him at a few parties." 

"Is he one of your friends, too?" 

"Certainly not!" The sharp resentment was genuine. 
"Then why did you invite him?" 

"Well, you can't give a party— not a party that counts— while he's in this 
country, without inviting him. It's a nuisance if he comes, and a social 
black mark if he doesn't." 

Rearden laughed. She was off guard; she did not usually admit things of 
this kind. "Look," he said wearily, "I don't want to spoil your party. But 
keep that man away from me. Don't come around with introductions. I don't 
want to meet him. I don't know how you'll work that, but you're an expert 
hostess, so work it." 

Dagny stood still when she saw Francisco approaching. He bowed to her as 
he passed by. He did not stop, but she knew that he had stopped the moment in 
his mind. She saw him smile faintly in deliberate emphasis of what he 
understood and did not choose to acknowledge. She turned away. She hoped to 
avoid him for the rest of the evening. 

Balph Eubank had joined the group around Dr. Pritchett, and was saying 
sullenly, ". . . no, you cannot expect people to understand the higher 
reaches of philosophy. Culture should be taken out of the hands of the 
dollar-chasers. We need a national subsidy for literature. It is disgraceful 
that artists are treated like peddlers and that art works have to be sold 
like soap." 

"You mean, your complaint is that they don't sell like soap?" asked 
Francisco d'Anconia. 

They had not noticed him approach; the conversation stopped, as if slashed 
off; most of them had never met him, but they all recognized him at once. 

"I meant—" Balph Eubank started angrily and closed his mouth; he saw the 
eager interest on the faces of his audience, but it was not interest in 
philosophy any longer. 

"Why, hello, Professor!" said Francisco, bowing to Dr. Pritchett. 

There was no pleasure in Dr. Pritchett 's face when he answered the 
greeting and performed a few introductions. 

"We were just discussing a most interesting subject," said the earnest 
matron. "Dr. Pritchett was telling us that nothing is anything." 

"He should, undoubtedly, know more than anyone else about that, " 

Francisco answered gravely. 

"I wouldn't have supposed that you knew Dr. Pritchett so well, Senor 
d'Anconia," she said, and wondered why the professor looked displeased by her 
remark . 

"I am an alumnus of the great school that employs Dr. Pritchett at 
present, the Patrick Henry University. But I studied under one of his 
predecessors— Hugh Akston." 

"Hugh Akston!" the attractive young woman gasped. "But you couldn't have, 
Senor d'Anconia! You're not old enough. I thought he was one of those great 
names of ... of the last century." 

"Perhaps in spirit, madame . Not in fact." 

"But I thought he died years ago." 

"Why, no. He is still alive." 

"Then why don't we ever hear about him any more?" 
"He retired, nine years ago." 

"Isn't it odd? When a politician or a movie star retires, we read front 
page stories about it. But when a philosopher retires, people do not even 
notice it." 

"They do, eventually." 

A young man said, astonished, "I thought Hugh Akston was one of those 
classics that nobody studied any more, except in histories of philosophy. I 
read an article recently which referred to him as the last of the great 
advocates of reason." 

"Just what did Hugh Akston teach?" asked the earnest matron. 

Francisco answered, "He taught that everything is something." 

"Your loyalty to your teacher is laudable, Senior d'Anconia," said Dr. 

Pritchett dryly. "May we take it that you are an example of the practical 
results of his teaching?" 

"I am." 

James Taggart had approached the group and was waiting to be noticed. 
"Hello, Francisco." 
"Good evening, James." 

"What a wonderful coincidence, seeing you here! I've been very anxious to 
speak to you." 

"That's new. You haven't always been." 

"Now you're joking, just like in the old days." Taggart was moving slowly, 
as if casually, away from the group, hoping to draw Francisco after him. "You 
know that there's not a person in this room who wouldn't love to talk to 
you . " 

"Really? I ' d be inclined to suspect the opposite." Francisco had followed 
obediently, but stopped within hearing distance of the others. 

"I have tried in every possible way to get in touch with you, " said 
Taggart, "but . . . but circumstances didn't permit me to succeed." 

"Are you trying to hide from me the fact that I refused to see you?" 

"Well . . . that is . , .1 mean, why did you refuse?" 

"I couldn't imagine what you wanted to speak to me about." 

"The San Sebastian Mines, of course!" Taggart's voice rose a little. 

"Why, what about them?" 

"But . . . Now, look, Francisco, this is serious. It's a disaster, an 
unprecedented disaster— and nobody can make any sense out of it. I don't know 
what to think. I don't understand it at all. I have a right to know." 

"A right? Aren't you being old-fashioned, James? But what is it you want 
to know?" 

"Well, first of all, that nationalization— what are you going to do about 

"Nothing. " 
"Nothing? ! " 

"But surely you don't want me to do anything about it. My mines and your 
railroad were seized by the will of the people. You wouldn't want me to 
oppose the will of the people, would you?" 

"Francisco, this is not a laughing matter!" 

"I never thought it was." 

"I'm entitled to an explanation! You owe your stockholders an account of 
the whole disgraceful affair! Why did you pick a worthless mine? Why did you 
waste all those millions? What sort of rotten swindle was It?" 

Francisco stood looking at him in polite astonishment. "Why, James," 

he said, "I thought you would approve of it." 

"Approve? ! " 

"I thought you would consider the San Sebastian Mines as the practical 
realization of an ideal of the highest moral order. Remembering that you and 
I have disagreed so often in the past, I thought you would be gratified to 
see me acting in accordance with your principles." 

"What are you talking about?" 

Francisco shook his head regretfully. "I don't know why you should call my 
behavior rotten. I thought you would recognize it as an honest effort to 
practice what the whole world is preaching. Doesn't everyone believe that it 
is evil to be selfish? I was totally selfless in regard to the San Sebastian 
project. Isn't it evil to pursue a personal interest? I had no personal 
interest in it whatever. Isn't it evil to work for profit? I did not work for 
profit— I took a loss. Doesn't everyone agree that the purpose and 
justification of an industrial enterprise are not production, but the 
livelihood of its employees? The San Sebastian Mines were the most eminently 
successful venture in industrial history: they produced no copper, but they 
provided a livelihood for thousands of men who could not have achieved, in a 
lifetime, the equivalent of what they got for one day's work, which they 
could not do. Isn't it generally agreed that an owner is a parasite and an 
exploiter, that it is the employees who do all the work and make the product 
possible? I did not exploit anyone. I did not burden the San Sebastian Mines 
with my useless presence; I left them in the hands of the men who count. I 
did not pass judgment on the value of that property. I turned it over to a 
mining specialist. He was not a very good specialist, but he needed the job 
very badly. Isn't it generally conceded that when you hire a man for a job, 
it is his need that counts, not his ability? Doesn't everyone believe that in 
order to get the goods, all you have to do is need them? I have carried out 
every moral precept of our age. I expected gratitude and a citation of honor. 
I do not understand why I am being damned." 

In the silence of those who had listened, the sole comment was the shrill, 
sudden giggle of Betty Pope: she had understood nothing, but she saw the look 
of helpless fury on James Taggart ' s face. 

People were looking at Taggart, expecting an answer. They were indifferent 
to the issue, they were merely amused by the spectacle of someone's 
embarrassment. Taggart achieved a patronizing smile. 

"You don't expect me to take this seriously?" he asked. 

"There was a time, " Francisco answered, "when I did not believe that 
anyone could take it seriously. I was wrong." 

"This is outrageous!" Taggart's voice started to rise. "It's perfectly 
outrageous to treat your public responsibilities with such thoughtless 
levity!" He turned to hurry away. 

Francisco shrugged, spreading his hands. "You see? I didn't think you 
wanted to speak to me." 

Rearden stood alone, far at the other end of the room. Philip noticed him, 
approached and waved to Lillian, calling her over. 

"Lillian, I don't think that Henry is having a good time," he said, 
smiling; one could not tell whether the mockery of his smile was directed at 
Lillian or at Rearden. "Can't we do something about it?" 

"Oh, nonsense!" said Rearden. 

"I wish I knew what to do about it, Philip," said Lillian. "I've always 
wished Henry would learn to relax. He's so grimly serious about everything. 
He's such a rigid Puritan. I've always wanted to see him drunk, just once. 
But I've given up. What would you suggest?" 

"Oh, I don't know! But he shouldn't be standing around all by himself." 

"Drop it," said Rearden. While thinking dimly that he did not want to hurt 
their feelings, he could not prevent himself from adding, "You don't know how 
hard I've tried to be left standing all by myself." 

"There— you see?" Lillian smiled at Philip. "To enjoy life and people is 
not so simple as pouring a ton of steel. Intellectual pursuits are not 
learned in the market place." 

Philip chuckled. "It's not intellectual pursuits I'm worried about. 

How sure are you about that Puritan stuff, Lillian? If I were you, I 
wouldn't leave him free to look around. There are too many beautiful women 
here tonight." 

"Henry entertaining thoughts of infidelity? You flatter him, Philip. 
You overestimate his courage." She smiled at Rearden, coldly, for a brief, 
stressed moment, then moved away. 

Rearden looked at his brother. "What in hell do you think you're doing?" 
"Oh, stop playing the Puritan! Can't you take a joke?" 

Moving aimlessly through the crowd, Dagny wondered why she had accepted 
the invitation to this party. The answer astonished her: it was because she 
had wanted to see Hank Rearden. Watching him in the crowd, she realized the 
contrast for the first time. The faces of the others looked like aggregates 
of interchangeable features, every face oozing to blend into the anonymity of 
resembling all, and all looking as if they were melting. Rearden 's face, with 
the sharp planes, the pale blue eyes, the ash-blond hair, had the firmness of 
ice; the uncompromising clarity of its lines made it look, among the others, 
as if he were moving through a fog, hit by a ray of light. 

Her eyes kept returning to him involuntarily. She never caught him 
glancing in her direction. She could not believe that he was avoiding her 
intentionally; there could be no possible reason for it- yet she felt certain 
that he was. She wanted to approach him and convince herself that she was 
mistaken. Something stopped her; she could not understand her own reluctance. 

Rearden bore patiently a conversation with his mother and two ladies whom 
she wished him to entertain with stories of his youth and his struggle. He 
complied, telling himself that she was proud of him in her own way. But he 
felt as if something in her manner kept suggesting that she had nursed him 
through his struggle and that she was the source of his success. He was glad 
when she let him go. Then he escaped once more to the recess of the window. 

He stood there for a while, leaning on a sense of privacy as if it were a 
physical support. 

"Mr. Rearden," said a strangely quiet voice beside him, "permit me to 
introduce myself. My name is d'Anconia." 

Rearden turned, startled; d'Anconia 's manner and voice had a quality he 
had seldom encountered before: a tone of authentic respect. 

"How do you do," he answered. His voice was brusque and dry; but he had 
answered . 

"I have observed that Mrs. Rearden has been trying to avoid the necessity 
of presenting me to you, and I can guess the reason. Would you prefer that I 
leave your house?" 

The action of naming an issue instead of evading it, was so unlike the 
usual behavior of all the men he knew, it was such a sudden, startling 

relief, that Rearden remained silent for a moment, studying d'Anconia's face. 
Francisco had said it very simply, neither as a reproach nor a plea, but in a 
manner which, strangely, acknowledged Rearden 's dignity and his own. 

"No," said Rearden, "whatever else you guessed, I did not say that." 

"Thank you. In that case, you will allow me to speak to you." 

"Why should you wish to speak to me?" 

"My motives cannot interest you at present." 

"Mine is not the sort of conversation that could interest you at all." 

"You are mistaken about one of us, Mr. Rearden, or both. I came to this 
party solely in order to meet you." 

There had been a faint tone of amusement in Rearden ' s voice; now it 
hardened into a hint of contempt. "You started by playing it straight. 

Stick to it." 

"I am." 

"What did you want to meet me for? In order to make me lose money?" 
Francisco looked straight at him. "Yes— eventually . " 
"What is it, this time? A gold mine?" 

Francisco shook his head slowly; the conscious deliberation of the 
movement gave it an air that was almost sadness. "No," he said, "I don't want 
to sell you anything. As a matter of fact, I did not attempt to sell the 
copper mine to James Taggart, either. He came to me for it. You won't." 

Rearden chuckled. "If you understand that much, we have at least a 
sensible basis for conversation. Proceed on that. If you don't have some 
fancy investment in mind, what did you want to meet me for?" 

"In order to become acquainted with you, " 

"That's not an answer. It's just another way of saying the same thing." 
"Not quite, Mr. Rearden." 

"Unless you mean— in order to gain my confidence?" 

"No. I don't like people who speak or think in terms of gaining anybody's 
confidence. If one's actions are honest, one does not need the predated 
confidence of others, only their rational perception. The person who craves a 
moral blank check of that kind, has dishonest intentions, whether he admits 
it to himself or not." 

Rearden 's startled glance at him was like the involuntary thrust of a hand 
grasping for support in a desperate need. The glance betrayed how much he 
wanted to find the sort of man he thought he was seeing. Then Rearden lowered 
his eyes, almost closing them, slowly, shutting out the vision and the need. 
His face was hard; it had an expression of severity, an inner severity 
directed at himself; it looked austere and lonely. 

"All right," he said tonelessly. "What do you want, if it's not my 
confidence? " 

"I want to learn to understand you." 

"What for?" 

"For a reason of my own which need not concern you at present." 
"What do you want to understand about me?" 

Francisco looked silently out at the darkness. The fire of the mills was 
dying down. There was only a faint tinge of red left on the edge of the 
earth, just enough to outline the scraps of clouds ripped by the tortured 
battle of the storm in the sky. Dim shapes kept sweeping through space and 
vanishing, shapes which were branches, but looked as if they were the fury of 
the wind made visible. 

"It's a terrible night for any animal caught unprotected on that plain," 
said Francisco d'Anconia. "This is when one should appreciate the meaning 
of being a man." 

Rearden did not answer for a moment; then he said, as if in answer to 
himself, a tone of wonder in his voice, "Funny . . ." 

"You told me what I was thinking just a while ago . . ." 
"You were?" 

". . . only I didn't have the words for it," 
"Shall I tell you the rest of the words?" 
"Go ahead." 

"You stood here and watched the storm _with the greatest pride one can 
ever feel— because you are able to have summer flowers and half naked women in 
your house on a night like this, in demonstration of your victory over that 
storm. And if it weren't for you, most of those who are here would be left 
helpless at the mercy of that wind in the middle of some such plain." 

"How did you know that?" 

In tune with his question., Rearden realized that it was not his thoughts 
this man had named, but his most hidden, most persona] 

emotion; and that he, who would never confess his emotions to anyone, had 
confessed it in his question. He saw the faintest flicker in Francisco's 
eyes, as of a smile or a check mark. 

"What would you know about a pride of that kind?" Rearden asked sharply, 
as if the contempt of the second question could erase the confidence of the 
first . 

"That is what I felt once, when I was young." 

Rearden looked at him. There was neither mockery nor self-pity in 
Francisco's face; the fine, sculptured planes and the clear, blue eyes held a 
quiet composure, the face was open, offered to any blow, unflinching. 

"Why do you want to talk about it?" Rearden asked, prompted by a moment's 
reluctant compassion. 

"Let us say— by way of gratitude, Mr. Rearden." 

"Gratitude to me?" 

"If you will accept it." 

Rearden's voice hardened. "I haven't asked for gratitude. I don't need 
it. " 

"I have not said you needed it. But of all those whom you are saving from 
the storm tonight, I am the only one who will offer it." 

After a moment's silence, Rearden asked, his voice low with a sound which 
was almost a threat, "What are you trying to do?" 

"I am calling your attention to the nature of those for whom you are 
working . " 

"It would take a man who's never done an honest day's work in his life, to 
think or say that." The contempt in Rearden's voice had a note of relief; he 
had been disarmed by a doubt of his judgment on the character of his 
adversary; now he felt certain once more. "You wouldn't understand it if I 
told you that the man who works, works for himself, even if he does carry the 
whole wretched bunch of you along. Now I'll guess what you're thinking: go 
ahead, say that it's evil, that I'm selfish, conceited, heartless, cruel. I 
am. I don't want any part of that tripe about working for others. I'm not." 

For the first time, he saw the look of a personal reaction in Francisco's 
eyes, the look of something eager and young. "The only thing that's wrong in 
what you said, " Francisco answered, "is that you permit anyone to call it 
evil." In Rearden's pause of incredulous silence, he pointed at the crowd in 
the drawing room. "Why are you willing to carry them?" 

"Because they're a bunch of miserable children who struggle to remain 
alive, desperately and very badly, while I— I don't even notice the burden," 

"Why don't you tell them that?" 


"That you're working for your own sake, not theirs." 
"They know it." 

"Oh yes, they know it. Every single one of them here knows it. But they 
don't think you do. And the aim of all their efforts is to keep you from 
knowing it." 

"Why should I care what they think?" 

"Because it's a battle in which one must make one's stand clear." 
"A battle? What battle? I hold the whip hand. I don't fight the disarmed." 
"Are they? They have a weapon against you. It's their only weapon, but 
it's a terrible one. Ask yourself what it is, some time." 
"Where do you see any evidence of it?" 

"In the unforgivable fact that you're as unhappy as you are." 

Rearden could accept any form of reproach, abuse, damnation anyone chose 
to throw at him; the only human reaction which he would not accept was pity. 
The stab of a coldly rebellious anger brought him back to the full context of 
the moment. He spoke, fighting not to acknowledge the nature of the emotion 
rising within him, "What sort of effrontery are you indulging in? What's your 
motive? " 

"Let us say— to give you the words you need, for the time when you'll need 
them. " 

"Why should you want to speak to me on such a subject?" 
"In the hope that you will remember it." 

What he felt, thought Rearden, was anger at the incomprehensible fact that 
he had allowed himself to enjoy this conversation. He felt a dim sense of 
betrayal, the hint of an unknown danger. "Do you expect me to forget what you 
are?" he asked, knowing that this was what he had forgotten. 

"I do not expect you to think of me at all." 

Under his anger, the emotion which Rearden would not acknowledge remained 
unstated and unthought; he knew it only as a hint of pain. 

Had he faced it, he would have known that he still heard Francisco's voice 
saying, "I am the only one who will offer it ... if you will accept it. . . 
." He heard the words and the strangely solemn inflection of the quiet voice 
and an inexplicable answer of his own, something within him that wanted to 
cry yes, to accept, to tell this man that he accepted, that he needed it— 
though there was no name for what he needed, it was not gratitude, and he 
knew that it was not gratitude this man had meant. 

Aloud, he said, "I didn't seek to talk to you. But you've asked for it and 
you're going to hear it. To me, there's only one form of human depravity— the 
man without a purpose." 

"That is true." 

"I can forgive all those others, they're not vicious, they're merely 
helpless. But you— you ' re the kind who can't be forgiven." 

"It is against the sin of forgiveness that I wanted to warn you." 

"You had the greatest chance in life. What have you done with it? 

If you have the mind to understand all the things you said, how can you 
speak to me at all? How can you face anyone after the sort of irresponsible 
destruction you've perpetrated in that Mexican business?" 

"It is your right to condemn me for it, if you wish." 

Dagny stood by the corner of the window recess, listening. They did not 
notice her. She had seen them together and she had approached, drawn by an 
impulse she could not explain or resist; it seemed crucially important that 
she know what these two men said to each other. 

She had heard their last few sentences. She had never thought it possible 
that she would see Francisco taking a beating. He could smash any adversary 
in any form of encounter. Yet he stood, offering no defense. 

She knew that it was not indifference; she knew his face well enough to 
see the effort his calm cost him— she saw the faint line of a muscle pulled 
tight across his cheek. 

"Of all those who live by the ability of others," said Rearden, "you're 
the one real parasite." 

"I have given you grounds to think so." 

"Then what right have you to talk about the meaning of being a man? You're 
the one who has betrayed it." 

"I am sorry if I have offended you by what you may rightly consider as a 
presumption . " 

Francisco bowed and turned to go. Rearden said involuntarily, not knowing 
that the question negated his anger, that it was a plea to stop this man and 
hold him, "What did you want to learn to understand about me?" 

Francisco turned. The expression of his face had not changed; it was still 
a look of gravely courteous respect. "I have learned it," he answered. 

Rearden stood watching him as he walked off into the crowd. The figures of 
a butler, with a crystal dish, and of Dr. Pritchett, stooping to choose 
another canape, hid Francisco from sight. Rearden glanced out at the 
darkness; nothing could be seen there but the wind. 

Dagny stepped forward, when he came out of the recess; she smiled, openly 
inviting conversation. He stopped. It seemed to her that he had stopped 
reluctantly. She spoke hastily, to break the silence. 

"Hank, why do you have so many intellectuals of the looter persuasion 
here? I wouldn't have them in my house." 

This was not what she had wanted to say to him. But she did not know what 
she wanted to say; never before had she felt herself left wordless in his 
presence . 

She saw his eyes narrowing, like a door being closed. "I see no reason why 
one should not invite them to a party," he answered coldly. 

"Oh, I didn't mean to criticize your choice of guests. But . . . Well, 
I've been trying not to learn which one of them is Bertram Scudder. If I do, 
I'll slap his face." She tried to sound casual, "I don't want to create a 
scene, but I'm not sure I'll be able to control myself. I couldn't believe it 
when somebody told me that Mrs. Rearden had invited him." 

"I invited him." 

"But . . ." Then her voice dropped. "Why?" 

"I don't attach any importance to occasions of this kind." 
"I'm sorry, Hank. I didn't know you were so tolerant. I'm not." 
He said nothing. 

"I know you don't like parties. Neither do I. But sometimes I wonder . . . 
perhaps we're the only ones who were meant to be able to enjoy them." 
"I am afraid I have no talent for it." 

"Not for this. But do you think any of these people are enjoying it? 
They're just straining to be more senseless and aimless than usual. To be 
light and unimportant . . . You know, I think that only if one feels 
immensely important can one feel truly light." 

"I wouldn't know." 

"It's just a thought that disturbs me once in a while. ... I thought it 
about my first ball. ... I keep thinking that parties are intended to be 
celebrations, and celebrations should be only for those who have something to 
celebrate . " 

"I have never thought of it." 

She could not adapt her words to the rigid formality of his manner; she 
could not quite believe it. They had always been at ease together, in his 
office. Now he was like a man in a strait jacket. 

"Hank, look at it. If you didn't know any of these people, wouldn't it 
seem beautiful? The lights and the clothes and all the imagination that went 
to make it possible . . ." She was looking at the room. She did not notice 
that he had not followed her glance. He was looking down at the shadows on 
her naked shoulder, the soft, blue shadows made by the light that fell 

through the strands of her hair. "Why have we left it all to fools? It should 
have been ours . " 

"In what manner?" 

"I don't know . . . I've always expected parties to be exciting and 
brilliant, like some rare drink." She laughed; there was a note of sadness in 
it. "But I don't drink, either. That's just another symbol that doesn't mean 
what it was intended to mean," He was silent. She added, "Perhaps there's 
something that we have missed." 

"I am not aware of it." 

In a flash of sudden, desolate emptiness, she was glad that he had not 
understood or responded, feeling dimly that she had revealed too much, yet 
not knowing what she had revealed. She shrugged, the movement running through 
the curve of her shoulder like a faint convulsion. 

"It's just an old illusion of mine," she said indifferently. "Just a mood 
that comes once every year or two. Let me see the latest steel price index 
and I'll forget all about it." 

She did not know that his eyes were following her, as she walked away from 

She moved slowly through the room, looking at no one. She noticed a small 
group huddled by the unlighted fireplace. The room was not cold, but they sat 
as if they drew comfort from the thought of a non-existent fire. 

"I do not know why, but I am growing to be afraid of the dark. No, not 
now, only when I am alone. What frightens me is night. Night as such." 

The speaker was an elderly spinster with an air of breeding and 
hopelessness. The three women and two men of the group were well dressed, the 
skin of their faces was smoothly well tended, but they had a manner of 
anxious caution that kept their voices one tone lower than normal and blurred 
the differences of their ages, giving them all the same gray look of being 
spent. It was the look one saw in groups of respectable people everywhere. 
Dagny stopped and listened. 

"But, my dear," one of them asked, "why should it frighten you?" 

"I don't know," said the spinster, "I am not afraid of prowlers or 
robberies or anything of the sort. But I stay awake all night. I fall asleep 
only when I see the sky turning pale. It is very odd. Every evening, when it 
grows dark, I get the feeling that this tune it is final, that daylight will 
not return . " 

"My cousin who lives on the coast of Maine wrote me the same thing, " 
said one of the women. 

"Last night," said the spinster, "I stayed awake because of the shooting. 
There were guns going off all night, way out at sea. There were no flashes. 
There was nothing. Just those detonations, at long intervals, somewhere in 
the fog over the Atlantic." 

"I read something about it in the paper this morning. Coast Guard target 
practice . " 

"Why, no," the spinster said indifferently. "Everybody down on the shore 
knows what it was. It was Ragnar Danneskjold. It was the Coast Guard trying 
to catch him." 

"Ragnar Danneskjold in Delaware Bay?" a woman gasped. 

"Oh, yes. They say it is not the first time." 

"Did they catch him?" 

"No. " 

"Nobody can catch him," said one of the men. 

"The People's State of Norway has offered a million-dollar reward for his 
head. " 

"That's an awful lot of money to pay for a pirate's head." 
"But how are we going to have any order or security or planning in the 
world, with a pirate running loose all over the seven seas?" 

"Do you know what it was that he seized last night?" said the spinster. 
"The big ship with the relief supplies we were sending to the People's 
State of France." 

"How does he dispose of the goods he seizes?" 
"Ah, that— nobody knows." 

"I met a sailor once, from a ship he'd attacked, who'd seen him in person. 
He said that Ragnar Danneskjold has the purest gold hair and the most 
frightening face on earth, a face with no sign of any feeling. If there ever 
was a man born without a heart, he's it— the sailor said." 

"A nephew of mine saw Ragnar Danneskj old ' s ship one night, off the coast 
of Scotland. He wrote me that he couldn't believe his eyes. It was a better 
ship than any in the navy of the People's State of England." 

"They say he hides in one of those Norwegian fjords where neither God nor 
man will ever find him. That's where the Vikings used to hide in the Middle 
Ages . " 

"There's a reward on his head offered by the People's State of Portugal, 
too. And by the People's State of Turkey." 

"They say it's a national scandal in Norway. He comes from one of their 
best families. The family lost its money generations ago, but the name is of 
the noblest. The ruins of their castle are still in existence. 

His father is a bishop. His father has disowned him and excommunicated 
him. But it had no effect." 

"Did you know that Ragnar Danneskjold went to school in this country? 
Sure. The Patrick Henry University." 

"Not really?" 

"Oh yes. You can look it up." 

"What bothers me is . . . You know, I don't like it. I don't like it that 
he's now appearing right here, in our own waters. I thought things like that 
could happen only in the wastelands. Only in Europe. But a big-scale outlaw 
of that kind operating in Delaware in our day and age!" 

"He's been seen off Nantucket, too. And at Bar Harbor. The newspapers have 
been asked not to write about it." 


"They don't want people to know that the navy can't cope with him." 
"I don't like it. It feels funny. It's like something out of the Dark 
Ages . " 

Dagny glanced up. She saw Francisco d'Anconia standing a few steps away. 
He was looking at her with a kind of stressed curiosity; his eyes were 
mocking . 

"It's a strange world we're living in," said the spinster, her voice low. 

"I read an article," said one of the women tonelessly. "It said that times 
of trouble are good for us. It is good that people are growing poorer. To 
accept privations is a moral virtue." 

"I suppose so," said another, without conviction. 

"We must not worry. I heard a speech that said it is useless to worry or 
to blame anyone. Nobody can help what he does, that is the way things made 
him. There is nothing we can do about anything. We must learn to bear it." 

"What's the use anyway? What is man's fate? Hasn't it always been to hope, 
but never to achieve? The wise man is the one- who does not attempt to hope." 

"That is the right attitude to take." 

"I don't know ... I don't know what is right any more . . . How can we 
ever know?" 

"Oh well, who is John Gait?" 

Dagny turned brusquely and started away from them. One of the women 
followed her. 

"But I do know it, " said the woman, in the soft, mysterious tone of 
sharing a secret. 

"You know what?" 

"I know who is John Gait." 

"Who?" Dagny asked tensely, stopping. 

"I know a man who knew John Gait in person. This man is an old friend of a 
great-aunt of mine. He was there and he saw it happen. Do you know the legend 
of Atlantis, Miss Taggart?" 


"Atlantis . " 

"Why . . . vaguely." 

"The Isles of the Blessed. That is what the Greeks called it, thousands of 
years ago. They said Atlantis was a place where hero-spirits lived in a 
happiness unknown to the rest of the earth. A place which only the spirits of 
heroes could enter, and they reached it without dying, because they carried 
the secret of life within them. Atlantis was lost to mankind, even then. But 
the Greeks knew that it had existed. They tried to find it. Some of them said 
it was underground, hidden in the heart of the earth. But most of them said 
it was an island. A radiant island in the Western Ocean. Perhaps what they 
were thinking of was America. They never found it. For centuries afterward, 
men said it was only a legend. 

They did not believe it, but they never stopped looking for it, because 
they knew that that was what they had to find." 

"Well, what about John Gait?" 

"He found it." 

Dagny' s interest was gone. "Who was he?" 

"John Gait was a millionaire, a man of inestimable wealth. He was sailing 
his yacht one night, in mid-Atlantic, fighting the worst storm ever wreaked 
upon the world, when he found it. He saw it in the depth, where it had sunk 
to escape the reach of men. He saw the towers of Atlantis shining on the 
bottom of the ocean. It was a sight of such kind that when one had seen it, 
one could no longer wish to look at the rest of the earth. John Gait sank his 
ship and went down with his entire crew. They all chose to do it. My friend 
was the only one who survived." 

"How interesting." 

"My friend saw it with his own eyes," said the woman, offended. "It 
happened many years ago. But John Gait's family hushed up the story." 

"And what happened to his fortune? [ don't recall ever hearing of a Gait 
fortune . " 

"It went down with him." She added belligerently, "You don't have to 
believe it." 

"Miss Taggart doesn't," said Francisco d'Anconia. "I do." 

They turned. He had followed them and he stood looking at them with the 
insolence of exaggerated earnestness. 

"Have you ever had faith in anything, Senor d'Anconia?" the woman asked 
angrily . 

"No, madame . " 

He chuckled at her brusque departure. Dagny asked coldly, "What's the 

"The joke's on that fool woman. She doesn't know that she was telling you 
the truth." 

"Do you expect me to believe that?" 
"No. " 

"Then what do you find so amusing?" 

"Oh, a great many things here. Don't you?" 

"No . " 

"Well, that's one of the things I find amusing." 
"Francisco, will you leave me alone?" 

"But I have. Didn't you notice that you were first to speak to me 

"Why do you keep watching me?" 
"Curiosity . " 
"About what?" 

"Your reaction to the things which you don't find amusing." 
"Why should you care about my reaction to anything?" 

"That is my own way of having a good time, which, incidentally, you are 
not having, are you, Dagny? Besides, you're the only woman worth watching 
here . " 

She stood defiantly still, because the way he looked at her demanded an 
angry escape. She stood as she always did, straight and taut, her head lifted 
impatiently. It was the unfeminine pose of an executive. But her naked 
shoulder betrayed the fragility of the body under the black dress, and the 
pose made her most truly a woman. The proud strength became a challenge to 
someone's superior strength, and the fragility a reminder that the challenge 
could be broken. She was not conscious of it. She had met no one able to see 

He said, looking down at her body, "Dagny, what a magnificent waste!" 

She had to turn and escape. She felt herself blushing, for the first time 
in years: blushing because she knew suddenly that the sentence named what she 
had felt all evening. 

She ran, trying not to think. The music stopped her. It was a sudden blast 
from the radio. She noticed Mort Liddy, who had turned it on, waving his arms 
to a group of friends, yelling, "That's it! That's it! I want you to hear 
it ! " 

The great burst of sound was the opening chords of Halley's Fourth 
Concerto. It rose in tortured triumph, speaking its denial of pain, its hymn 
to a distant vision. Then the notes broke. It was as if a handful of mud and 
pebbles had been flung at the music, and what followed was the sound of the 
rolling and the dripping. It was Halley's Concerto swung into a popular tune. 
It was Halley's melody torn apart, its holes stuffed with hiccoughs. The 
great statement of joy had become the giggling of a barroom. Yet it was still 
the remnant of Halley' s melody that gave it form; it was the melody that 
supported it like a spinal cord. 

"Pretty good?" Mort Liddy was smiling at his friends, boastfully and 
nervously. "Pretty good, eh? Best movie score of the year. Got me a prize. 
Got me a long-term contract. Yeah, this was my score for Heaven's in Your 
Backyard . " 

Dagny stood, staring at the room, as if one sense could replace another, 
as if sight could wipe out sound. She moved her head in a slow circle, trying 
to find an anchor somewhere. She saw Francisco leaning against a column, his 
arms crossed; he was looking straight at her; he was laughing. 

Don't shake like this, she thought. Get out of here. This was the approach 
of an anger she could not control. She thought: Say nothing. 

Walk steadily. Get out. 

She had started walking, cautiously, very slowly. She heard Lillian's 
words and stopped. Lillian had said it many times this evening, in answer to 
the same question, but it was the first time that Dagny heard it. 

"This?" Lillian was saying, extending her arm with the metal bracelet for 
the inspection of two smartly groomed women. "Why, no, it's not from a 
hardware store, it's a very special gift from my husband. 

Oh, yes, of course it's hideous. But don't you sec? It's supposed to be 
priceless. Of course, I'd exchange it for a common diamond bracelet any time, 
but somehow nobody will offer me one for it, even though it is so very, very 
valuable. Why? My dear, it's the first thing ever made of Rearden Metal." 

Dagny did not see the room. She did not hear the music. She felt the 
pressure of dead stillness against her eardrums. She did not know the moment 
that preceded, or the moments that were to follow. She did not know those 
involved, neither herself, nor Lillian, nor Rearden, nor the meaning of her 
own action. It was a single instant, blasted out of context. She had heard. 
She was looking at the bracelet of green-blue metal. 

She felt the movement of something being torn off her wrist, and she heard 
her own voice saying in the great stillness, very calmly, a voice cold as a 
skeleton, naked of emotion, "If you are not the coward that I think you are, 
you will exchange it." 

On the palm of her hand, she was extending her diamond bracelet to 
Lillian . 

"You're not serious, Miss Taggart?" said a woman's voice. 

It was not Lillian's voice. Lillian's eyes were looking straight at her. 

She saw them. Lillian knew that she was serious. 

"Give me that bracelet, " said Dagny, lifting her palm higher, the diamond 
band glittering across it. 

"This is horrible!" cried some woman. It was strange that the cry stood 
out so sharply. Then Dagny realized that there were people standing around 
them and that they all stood in silence. She was hearing sounds now, even the 
music; it was Halley's mangled Concerto, somewhere far away. 

She saw Rearden 's face. It looked as if something within him were mangled, 
like the music; she did not know by what. He was watching them. 

Lillian's mouth moved into an upturned crescent. It resembled a smile. She 
snapped the metal bracelet open, dropped it on Dagny 's palm and took the 
diamond band. 

"Thank you, Miss Taggart," she said. 

Dagny 's fingers closed about the metal. She felt that; she felt nothing 
else . 

Lillian turned, because Rearden had approached her. He took the diamond 
bracelet from her hand. He clasped it on her wrist, raised her hand to his 
lips and kissed it. 

He did not look at Dagny. 

Lillian laughed, gaily, easily, attractively, bringing the room back to 
its normal mood. 

"You may have it back, Miss Taggart, when you change your mind, " 
she said. 

Dagny had turned away. She felt calm and free. The pressure was gone. The 
need to get out had vanished. 

She clasped the metal bracelet on her wrist. She liked the feel of its 
weight against her skin. Inexplicably, she felt a touch of feminine vanity, 
the kind she had never experienced before: the desire to be seen wearing this 
particular ornament. 

From a distance, she heard snatches of indignant voices: "The most 
offensive gesture I've ever seen. ... It was vicious. . . .I'm glad 
Lillian took her up on it. . . . Serves her right, if she feels like throwing 
a few thousand dollars away. ..." 

For the rest of the evening, Rearden remained by the side of his wife. 

He shared her conversations, he laughed with her friends, he was suddenly 
the devoted, attentive, admiring husband. 

He was crossing the room, carrying a tray with drinks requested by someone 
in Lillian's group— an unbecoming act of informality which nobody had ever 
seen him perform— when Dagny approached him. 

She stopped and looked up at him, as if they were alone in his office. 

She stood like an executive, her head lifted. He looked down at her. In 
the line of his glance, from the fingertips of her one hand to her face, her 
body was naked but for his metal bracelet. 

"I'm sorry, Hank," she said, "but I had to do it." 

His eyes remained expressionless. Yet she was suddenly certain that she 
knew what he felt: he wanted to slap her face. 

"It was not necessary," he answered coldly, and walked on. 

It was very late when Rearden entered his wife's bedroom. She was still 
awake. A lamp burned on her bedside table. 

She lay in bed, propped up on pillows of pale green linen. Her bed jacket 
was pale green satin, worn with the untouched perfection of a window model; 
its lustrous folds looked as if the crinkle of tissue paper still lingered 
among them. The light, shaded to a tone of apple blossoms, fell on a table 
that held a book, a glass of fruit juice, and toilet accessories of silver 
glittering like instruments in a surgeon's case. Her arms had a tinge of 
porcelain. There was a touch of pale pink lipstick on her mouth. She showed 
no sign of exhaustion after the party— no sign of life to be exhausted. The 
place was a decorator's display of a lady groomed for sleep, not to be 

He still wore his dress clothes; his tie was loose, and a strand of hair 
hung over his face. She glanced at him without astonishment, as if she knew 
what the last hour in his room had done to him. 

He looked at her silently. He had not entered her room for a long time. He 
stood, wishing he had not entered it now. 

"Isn't it customary to talk, Henry?" 

"If you wish." 

"I wish you'd send one of your brilliant experts from the mills to take a 
look at our furnace. Do you know that it went out during the party and Simons 
had a terrible time getting it started again? . . . Mrs. 

Weston says that our best achievement is our cook— she loved the hors 
d'oeuvres. . . . Balph Eubank said a very funny thing about you, he said 
you're a crusader with a factory's chimney smoke for a plume. . . . 

I'm glad you don't like Francisco d'Anconia. I can't stand him." 

He did not care to explain his presence, or to disguise defeat, or to 
admit it by leaving. Suddenly, it did not matter to him what she guessed or 
felt. He walked to the window and stood, looking out. 

Why had she married him?— he thought. It was a question he had not asked 
himself on their wedding day, eight years ago. Since then, in tortured 
loneliness, he had asked it many times. He had found no answer. 

It was not for position, he thought, or for money. She came from an old 
family that had both. Her family's name was not among the most distinguished 
and their fortune was modest, but both were sufficient to let her be included 
in the top circles of New York's society, where he had met her. Nine years 
ago, he had appeared in New York like an explosion, in the glare of the 
success of Rearden Steel, a success that had been thought impossible by the 
city's experts. It was his indifference that made him spectacular. He did not 
know that he was expected to attempt to buy his way into society and that 
they anticipated the pleasure of rejecting him. He had no time to notice 
their disappointment. 

He attended, reluctantly, a few social occasions to which he was invited 
by men who sought his favor. He did not know, but they knew, that his 
courteous politeness was condescension toward the people who had expected to 
snub him, the people who had said that the age of achievement was past. 

It was Lillian's austerity that attracted him— the conflict between her 
austerity and her behavior. He had never liked anyone or expected to be 
liked. He found himself held by the spectacle of a woman who was obviously 
pursuing him but with obvious reluctance, as if against her own will, as if 
fighting a desire she resented. It was she who planned that they should meet, 
then faced him coldly, as if not caring that he knew it. She spoke little; 
she had an air of mystery that seemed to tell him he would never break 

through her proud detachment, and an air of amusement, mocking her own desire 
and his. 

He had not known many women. He had moved toward his goal, sweeping aside 
everything that did not pertain to it in the world and in himself. His 
dedication to his work was like one of the fires he dealt with, a fire that 
burned every lesser element, every impurity out of the white stream of a 
single metal. He was incapable of halfway concerns. 

But there were times when he felt a sudden access of desire, so violent 
that it could not be given to a casual encounter. He had surrendered to it, 
on a few rare occasions through the years, with women he had thought he 
liked. He had been left feeling an angry emptiness— because he had sought an 
act of triumph, though he had not known of what nature, but the response he 
received was only a woman's acceptance of a casual pleasure, and he knew too 
clearly that what he had won had no meaning. He was left, not with a sense of 
attainment, but with a sense of his own degradation. He grew to hate his 
desire. He fought it. He came to believe the doctrine that this desire was 
wholly physical, a desire, not of consciousness, but of matter, and he 
rebelled against the thought that his flesh could be free to choose and that 
its choice was impervious to the will of his mind. He had spent his life in 
mines and mills, shaping matter to his wishes by the power of his brain— and 
he found it intolerable that he should be unable to control the matter of his 
own body. He fought it. He had won his every battle against inanimate nature; 
but this was a battle he lost. 

It was the difficulty of the conquest that made him want Lillian. 

She seemed to be a woman who expected and deserved a pedestal; this made 
him want to drag her down to his bed. To drag her down, were the words in his 
mind; they gave him a dark pleasure, the sense of a victory worth winning. 

He could not understand why— he thought it was an obscene conflict, the 
sign of some secret depravity within him— why he felt, at the same time, a 
profound pride at the thought of granting to a woman the title of his wife. 
The feeling was solemn and shining; it was almost as if he felt that he 
wished to honor a woman by the act of possessing her. 

Lillian seemed to fit the image he had not known he held, had not known he 
wished to find; he saw the grace, the pride, the purity; the rest was in 
himself; he did not know that he was looking at a reflection. 

He remembered the day when Lillian came from New York to his office, of 
her own sudden choice, and asked him to take her through his mills. He heard 
a soft, low, breathless tone— the tone of admiration- 
growing in her voice, as she questioned him about his work and looked at 
the place around her. He looked at her graceful figure moving against the 
bursts of furnace flame, and at the light, swift steps of her high heels 
stumbling through drifts of slag, as she walked resolutely by his side. 

The look in her eyes, when she watched a heat of steel being poured, was 
like his own feeling for it made visible to him. When her eyes moved up to 
his face, he saw the same look, but intensified to a degree that seemed to 
make her helpless and silent. It was at dinner, that evening, that he asked 
her to marry him. 

It took him some time after his marriage before he admitted to himself 
that this was torture. He still remembered the night when he admitted it, 
when he told himself— the veins of his wrists pulled tight as he stood by the 
bed, looking down at Lillian— that he deserved the torture and that he would 
endure it. Lillian was not looking at him; she was adjusting her hair. "May I 
go to sleep now?" she asked. 

She had never objected; she had never refused him anything; she submitted 
whenever he wished. She submitted in the manner of complying with the rule 
that it was, at times, her duty to become an inanimate object turned over to 
her husband's use. 

She did not censure him. She made it clear that she took it for granted 
that men had degrading instincts which constituted the secret, ugly part of 
marriage. She was condescendingly tolerant. She smiled, in amused distaste, 
at the intensity of what he experienced. "It's the most undignified pastime I 
know of, " she said to him once, "but I have never entertained the illusion 
that men are superior to animals." 

His desire for her had died in the first week of their marriage. What 
remained was only a need which he was unable to destroy. He had never entered 
a whorehouse; he thought, at times, that the self-loathing he would 
experience there could be no worse than what he felt when he was driven to 
enter his wife's bedroom. 

He would often find her reading a book. She would put it aside, with a 
white ribbon to mark the pages. When lie lay exhausted, his eyes closed, 
still breathing in gasps, she would turn on the light, pick up the book and 
continue her reading. 

He told himself that he deserved the torture, because he had wished never 
to touch her again and was unable to maintain his decision. He despised 
himself for that. He despised a need which now held no shred of joy or 
meaning, which had become the mere need of a woman's body, an anonymous body 
that belonged to a woman whom he had to forget while he held it. He became 
convinced that the need was depravity. 

He did not condemn Lillian. He felt a dreary, indifferent respect for her. 
His hatred of his own desire had made him accept the doctrine that women were 
pure and that a pure woman was one incapable of physical pleasure. 

Through the quiet agony of the years of his marriage, there had been one 
thought which he would not permit himself to consider; the thought of 
infidelity. He had given his word. He intended to keep it. It was not loyalty 
to Lillian; it was not the person of Lillian that he wished to protect from 
dishonor— but the person of his wife. 

He thought of that now, standing at the window. He had not wanted to enter 
her room. He had fought against it. He had fought, more fiercely, against 
knowing the particular reason why he would not be able to withstand it 
tonight. Then, seeing her, he had known suddenly that he would not touch her. 
The reason which had driven him here tonight was the reason which made it 
impossible for him. 

He stood still, feeling free of desire, feeling the bleak relief of 
indifference to his body, to this room, even to his presence here. He had 
turned away from her, not to see her lacquered chastity. What he thought he 
should feel was respect; what he felt was revulsion. 

". . . but Dr. Pritchett said that our culture is dying because our 
universities have to depend on the alms of the meat packers, the steel 
puddlers and the purveyors of breakfast cereals." 

Why had she married him?— he thought. That bright, crisp voice was not 
talking at random. She knew why he had come here. She knew what it would do 
to him to see her pick up a silver buffer and go on talking gaily, polishing 
her fingernails. She was talking about the party. 

But she did not mention Bertram Scudder— or Dagny Taggart. 

What had she sought in marrying him? He felt the presence of some cold, 
driving purpose within her— but found nothing to condemn. She had never tried 
to use him. She made no demands on him. She found no satisfaction in the 
prestige of industrial power— she spurned it— she preferred her own circle of 
friends. She was not after money— she spent little— she was indifferent to the 
kind of extravagance he could have afforded. He had no right to accuse her, 
he thought, or ever to break the bond. She was a woman of honor in their 
marriage. She wanted nothing material from him. 

He turned and looked at her wearily. 

"Next time you give a party," he said, "stick to your own crowd. 

Don't invite what you think are my friends. I don't care to meet them 
socially . " 

She laughed, startled and pleased. "I don't blame you, darling," she said. 
He walked out, adding nothing else. 

What did she want from him?— he thought. What was she after? In the 
universe as he knew it. There was no answer. 


The rails rose through the rocks to the oil derricks and the oil derricks 
rose to the sky. Dagny stood on the bridge, looking up at the crest of the 
hill where the sun hit a spot of metal on the top of the highest rigging. 

It looked like a white torch lighted over the snow on the ridges of Wyatt 
OIL By spring, she thought, the track would meet the line growing toward it 
from Cheyenne. She let her eyes follow the green-blue rails that started from 
the derricks, came down, went across the bridge and past her. She turned her 
head to follow them through the miles of clear air, as they went on in great 
curves hung on the sides of the mountains, far to the end of the new track, 
where a locomotive crane, like an arm of naked bones and nerves, moved 
tensely against the sky. 

A tractor went past her, loaded with green-blue bolts. The sound of drills 
came as a steady shudder from far below, where men swung on metal cables, 
cutting the straight stone drop of the canyon wall to reinforce the abutments 
of the bridge. Down the track, she could see men working, their arms stiff 
with the tension of their muscles as they gripped the handles of electric tie 
tampers . 

"Muscles, Miss Taggart, " Ben Nealy, the contractor, had said to her, 
"muscles— that ' s all it takes to build anything in the world." 

No contractor equal to McNamara seemed to exist anywhere. She had taken 
the best she could find. No engineer on the Taggart staff could be trusted to 
supervise the job; all of them were skeptical about the new metal. "Frankly, 
Miss Taggart, " her chief engineer had said, "since it is an experiment that 
nobody has ever attempted before, I do not think it's fair that it should be 
my responsibility." 'It's mine," she had answered. He was a man in his 
forties, who still preserved the breezy manner of the college from which he 
had graduated. Once, Taggart Transcontinental had had a chief engineer, a 
silent, gray-haired, self educated man, who could not be matched on any 
railroad. He had resigned, five years ago. 

She glanced down over the bridge. She was standing on a slender beam of 
steel above a gorge that had cracked the mountains to a depth of fifteen 
hundred feet. Far at the bottom, she could distinguish the dim outlines of a 
dry river bed, of piled boulders, of trees contorted by centuries. She 
wondered whether boulders, tree trunks and muscles could ever bridge that 
canyon. She wondered why she found herself thinking suddenly that cave- 
dwellers had lived naked on the bottom of that canyon for ages. 

She looked up at the Wyatt oil fields. The track broke into sidings among 
the wells. She saw the small disks of switches dotted against the snow. They 
were metal switches, of the kind that were scattered in thousands, unnoticed, 
throughout the country— but these were sparkling in the sun and the sparks 
were greenish-blue. What they meant to her was hour upon hour of speaking 
quietly, evenly, patiently, trying to hit the center less target that was the 
person of Mr. Mowen, president of the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company, 
Inc., of Connecticut. "But, Miss Taggart, my dear Miss Taggart! My company 
has served your company for generations, why, your grandfather was the first 
customer of my grandfather, so you cannot doubt our eagerness to do anything 
you ask, but— did you say switches made of Rearden Metal?" 

"Yes . " 

"But, Miss Taggart! Consider what it would mean, having to work with that 
metal. Do you know that the stuff won't melt under less than four thousand 
degrees? . . . Great? Well, maybe that's great for motor manufacturers, but 
what I'm thinking of is that it means a new type of furnace, a new process 
entirely, men to be trained, schedules upset, work rules shot, everything 

balled up and then God only knows whether it will come out right or not! . . 
. How do you know, Miss Taggart? How can you know, when it's never been done 
before? . . . 

Well, I can't say that that metal is good and I can't say that it isn't. 

. . . Well, no, I can't tell whether it's a product of genius, as you say, 
or just another fraud as a great many people are saying, Miss Taggart, a 
great many. . . . Well, no, I can't say that it does matter one way or the 
other, because who am I to take a chance on a job of this kind?" 

She had doubled the price of her order. Rearden had sent two metallurgists 
to train Mowen ' s men, to teach, to show, to explain every step of the 
process, and had paid the salaries of Mowen ' s men while they were being 
trained . 

She looked at the spikes in the rail at her feet. They meant the night 
when she had heard that Summit Casting of Illinois, the only company willing 
to make spikes of Rearden Metal, had gone bankrupt, with half of her order 
undelivered. She had flown to Chicago, that night, she had got three lawyers, 
a judge and a state legislator out of bed, she had bribed two of them and 
threatened the others, she had obtained a paper that was an emergency permit 
of a legality no one would ever be able to untangle, she had had the 
padlocked doors of the Summit Casting plant unlocked and a random, half- 
dressed crew working at the smelters before the windows had turned gray with 
daylight. The crews had remained at work, under a Taggart engineer and a 
Rearden metallurgist. The rebuilding of the Rio Norte Line was not held up. 

She listened to the sound of the drills. The work had been held up once, 
when the drilling for the bridge abutments was stepped. "I couldn't help it, 
Miss Taggart," Ben Nealy had said, offended. "You know how fast drill heads 
wear out. I had them on order, but Incorporated Tool ran into a little 
trouble, they couldn't help it either, Associated Steel was delayed in 
delivering the steel to them, so there's nothing we can do but wait. It's no 
use getting upset, Miss Taggart, I'm doing my best." 

"I've hired you to do a job, not to do your best— whatever that is." 

"That's a funny thing to say. That's an unpopular attitude, Miss Taggart, 
mighty unpopular." 

"Forget Incorporated Tool. Forget the steel. Order the doll heads made of 
Rearden Metal." 

"Not me. I've had enough trouble with the damn stuff in that rail of 
yours. I'm not going to mess up my own equipment." 

"A drill head of Rearden Metal will outlast three of steel." 
"Maybe . " 

"I said order them made." 
"Who's going to pay for it?" 
"I am." 

"Who's going to find somebody to make them?" 

She had telephoned Rearden. He had found an abandoned tool plant, long 
since out of business. Within an hour, he had purchased it from the relatives 
of its last owner. Within a day, the plant had been reopened. Within a week, 
drill heads of Rearden Metal lad been delivered to the bridge in Colorado. 

She looked at the bridge. It represented a problem badly solved, but she 
had had to accept it. The bridge, twelve hundred feet of steel across the 
black gap, was built in the days of Nat Taggart ' s son. It was long past the 
stage of safety; it had been patched with stringers of steel, then of iron, 
then of wood; it was barely worth the patching. 

She had thought of a new bridge of Rearden Metal. She had asked her chief 
engineer to submit a design and an estimate of the cost. 

The design he had submitted was the scheme of a steel bridge badly scaled 
down to the greater strength of the new metal; the cost made the project 
impossible to consider. 

"I beg your pardon, Miss Taggart, " he had said, offended. "I don't know 
what you mean when you say that I haven't made use of the metal. This design 
is an adaptation of the best bridges on record. 

What else did you expect?" 

"A new method of construction." 

"What do you mean, a new method?" 

"I mean that when men got structural steel, they did not use it to build 
steel copies of wooden bridges." She had added wearily, "Get me an estimate 
on what we'll need to make our old bridge last for another five years." 

"Yes, Miss Taggart," he had said cheerfully. "If we reinforce it with 

"We'll reinforce it with Rearden Metal." 
"Yes, Miss Taggart," he had said coldly. 

She looked at the snow-covered mountains. Her job had seemed hard at 
times, in New York. She had stopped for blank moments in the middle of her 
office, paralyzed by despair at the rigidity of time which she could not 
stretch any further— on a day when urgent appointments had succeeded one 
another, when she had discussed worn Diesels, rotting freight cars, failing 
signal systems, falling revenues, while thinking of the latest emergency on 
the Rio Norte construction; when she had talked, with the vision of two 
streaks of green-blue metal cutting across her mind; when she had interrupted 
the discussions, realizing suddenly why a certain news item had disturbed 
her, and seized the telephone receiver to call long-distance, to call her 
contractor, to say, "Where do you get the food from, for your men? 

. . . I thought so. Well, Barton and Jones of Denver went bankrupt 
yesterday. Better find another supplier at once, if you don't want to have a 
famine on your hands." She had been building the line from her desk in New 
York. It had seemed hard. But now she was looking at the track. It was 
growing. It would be done on time. 

She heard sharp, hurried footsteps, and turned. A man was coming up the 
track. He was tall and young, his head of black hair was hatless in the cold 
wind, he wore a workman's leather jacket, but he did not look like a workman, 
there was too imperious an assurance in the way he walked. She could not 
recognize the face until he came closer. It was Ellis Wyatt. She had not seen 
him since that one interview in her office. 

He approached, stopped, looked at her and smiled. 

"Hello, Dagny, " he said. 

In a single shock of emotion, she knew everything the two words were 
intended to tell her. It was forgiveness, understanding, acknowledgment. It 
was a salute. 

She laughed, like a child, in happiness that things should be as right as 

"Hello," she said, extending her hand. 

His hand held hers an instant longer than a greeting required. It was 
their signature under a score settled and understood. 

"Tell Nealy to put up new snow fences for a mile and a half on Granada 
Pass," he said. "The old ones are rotted. They won't stand through another 
storm. Send him a rotary plow. What he's got is a piece of junk that wouldn't 
sweep a back yard. The big snows are coming any day now." 

She considered him for a moment. "How often have you been doing this?" she 
asked, "What?" 

"Coming to watch the work." 

"Every now and then. When I have the time. Why?" 

"Were you here the night when they had the rock slide?" 

"Yes . " 

"I was surprised how quickly and well they cleared the track, when I got 
the reports about it. It made me think that Nealy was a better man than I had 

"He isn't." 

"Was it you who organized the system of moving his day's supplies down to 
the line?" 

"Sure. His men used to spend half their time hunting for things. 

Tell him to watch his water tanks. They'll freeze on him one of these 
nights. See if you can get him a new ditcher. I don't like the looks of the 
one he's got. Check on his wiring system." 

She looked at him for a moment. "Thanks, Ellis," she said. 

He smiled and walked on. She watched him as he walked across the bridge, 
as he started up the long rise toward his derricks. 

"He thinks he owns the place, doesn't he?" 

She turned, startled. Ben Nealy had approached her; his thumb was pointing 
at Ellis Wyatt. 
"What place?" 

"The railroad, Miss Taggart. Your railroad. Or the whole world maybe. 
That's what he thinks." 

Ben Nealy was a bulky man with a soft, sullen face. His eyes were stubborn 
and blank. In die bluish light of the snow, his skin had the tinge of butter. 

"What does he keep hanging around here for?" he said. "As if nobody knew 
their business but him. The snooty show-off. Who does he think he is?" 

"God damn you," said Dagny evenly, not raising her voice. 

Nealy could never know what had made her say it. But some part of him, in 
some way of his own, knew it: the shocking thing to her was that he was not 
shocked. He said nothing. 

"Let's go to your quarters," she said wearily, pointing to an old railway 
coach on a spur in the distance. "Have somebody there to take notes." 

"Now about those crossties, Miss Taggart," he said hastily as they 
started. "Mr. Coleman of your office okayed them. He didn't say anything 
about too much bark. I don't see why you think they're—" 

"I said you're going to replace them." 

When she came out of the coach, exhausted by two hours of effort to be 
patient, to instruct, to explain— she saw an automobile parked on the torn 
dirt road below, a black two-seater, sparkling and new. A new car was an 
astonishing sight anywhere; one did not see them often. 

She glanced around and gasped at the sight of the tall figure standing at 
the foot of the bridge. It was Hank Rearden; she had not expected to find him 
in Colorado. He seemed absorbed in calculations, pencil and notebook in hand. 
His clothes attracted attention, like his car and for the same reason; he 
wore a simple trenchcoat and a hat with a slanting brim, but they were of 
such good quality, so flagrantly expensive that they appeared ostentatious 
among the seedy garments of the crowds everywhere, the more ostentatious 
because worn so naturally. 

She noticed suddenly that she was running toward him; she had lost all 
trace of exhaustion. Then she remembered that she had not seen him since the 
party. She stopped. 

He saw her, he waved to her in a gesture of pleased, astonished greeting, 
and he walked forward to meet her. He was smiling. 

"Hello," he said. "Your first trip to the job?" 

"My fifth, in three months." 

"I didn't know you were here. Nobody told me." 
"I thought you'd break down some day." 
"Break down?" 

"Enough to come and see this. There's your Metal. How do you like it?" 

He glanced around. "If you ever decide to quit the railroad business, let 
me know . " 

"You'd give me a job?" 
"Any time." 

She looked at him for a moment. "You're only half-kidding, Hank. 
I think you'd like it— having me ask you for a job. Having me for an 
employee instead of a customer. Giving me orders to obey." 
"Yes. I would." 

She said, her face hard, "Don't quit the steel business, I won't promise 
you a job on the railroad." 
He laughed. "Don't try it." 

"To win any battle when I set the terms." 

She did not answer. She was struck by what the words made her feel; it was 
not an emotion, but a physical sensation of pleasure, which she could not 
name or understand. 

"incidentally," he said, "this is not my first trip. I was here 
yesterday . " 

"You were? Why?" 

"Oh, I came to Colorado on some business of my own, so I thought I'd take 
a look at this . " 

"What are you after?" 

"Why do you assume that I'm after anything?" 

"You wouldn't waste time coming here just to look. Not twice." 
He laughed. "True." He pointed at the bridge. "I'm after that." 
"What about it?" 

"It's ready for the scrap heap." 

"Do you suppose that I don't know it?" 

"I saw the specifications of your order for Rearden Metal members for that 
bridge. You're wasting your money. The difference between what you're 
planning to spend on a makeshift that will last a couple of years, and the 
cost of a new Rearden Metal bridge, is comparatively so little that I don't 
see why you want to bother preserving this museum piece." 

"I've thought of a new Rearden Metal bridge, I've had my engineers give me 
an estimate." 

"What did they tell you?" 

"Two million dollars." 

"Good God!" 

"What would you say?" 

"Eight hundred thousand." 

She looked at him. She knew that he never spoke idly. She asked, trying to 
sound calm, "How?" 
"Like this." 

He showed her his notebook. She saw the disjoined notations he had made, a 
great many figures, a few rough sketches. She understood his scheme before he 
had finished explaining it. She did not notice that they had sat down, that 
they were sitting on a pile of frozen lumber, that her legs were pressed to 
the rough planks and she could feel the cold through her thin stockings. They 
were bent together over a few scraps of paper which could make it possible 
for thousands of tons of freight to cross a cut of empty space. His voice 
sounded sharp and clear, while he explained thrusts, pulls, loads, wind 
pressures. The bridge was to be a single twelve-hundred-foot truss span. He 
had devised a new type of truss. It had never been made before end could not 
be made except with members that had the strength and the lightness of 
Rearden Metal. 

"Hank," she asked, "did you invent this in two days?" 

"Hell, no. I 'invented' it long before I had Rearden Metal. I figured it 
out while making steel for bridges. I wanted a metal with which one would be 
able to do this, among other things. I came here just to see your particular 
problem for myself." 

He chuckled, when he saw the slow movement of her hand across her eyes and 
the line of bitterness in the set of her mouth, as if she were trying to wipe 
out the things against which she had fought such an exhausting, cheerless 
battle . 

"This is only a rough scheme, " he said, "but I believe you see what can be 

"I can't tell you all that I see, Hank." 
"Don't bother. I know it." 

"You're saving Taggart Transcontinental for the second time." 
"You used to be a better psychologist than that." 
"What do you mean?" 

"Why should I give a damn about saving Taggart Transcontinental? 
Don't you know that I want to have a bridge of Rearden Metal to show the 
country? " 

"Yes, Hank. I know it" 

"There are too many people yelping that rails of Rearden Metal are unsafe. 
So I thought I'd give them something real to yelp about. Let them see a 
bridge of Rearden Metal." 

She looked at him and laughed aloud in simple delight. 

"Now what's that?" he asked. 

"Hank, I don't know anyone, not anyone in the world, who'd think of such 
an answer to people, in such circumstances— except you." 

"What about you? Would you want to make the answer with me and face the 
same screaming?" 

"You knew I would." 

"Yes. I knew it." 

He glanced at her, his eyes narrowed; he did not laugh as she had, but the 
glance was an equivalent. 

She remembered suddenly their last meeting, at the party. The memory 
seemed incredible. Their ease with each other— the strange, light-headed 
feeling, which included the knowledge that it was the only sense of ease 
either of them found anywhere— made the thought of hostility impossible. Yet 
she knew that the party had taken place; he acted as if it had not. 

They walked to the edge of the canyon. Together, they looked at the dark 
drop, at the rise of rock beyond it, at the sun high on the derricks of Wyatt 
Oil. She stood, her feet apart on the frozen stones, braced firmly against 
the wind. She could feel, without touching it, the line of his chest behind 
her shoulder. The wind beat her coat against his legs. 

"Hank, do you think we can build it in time? There are only six months 
left. " 

"Sure. It will take less time and labor than any other type of bridge. 

Let me have my engineers work out the basic scheme and submit it to you. 
No obligation on your part. Just take a look at it and see for yourself 
whether you'll be able to afford it. You will. Then you can let your college 
boys work out the details." 

"What about the Metal?" 

"I'll get the Metal rolled if I have to throw every other order out of the 
mills . " 

"You'll get it rolled on so short a notice?" 
"Have I ever held you up on an order?" 

"No. But the way things are going nowadays, you might not be able to help 
it. " 

"Who do you think you're talking to— Orren Boyle?" 

She laughed. "All right. Let me have the drawings as soon as possible. 
I'll take a look and let you know within forty-eight hours. As to my college 
boys, they—" She stopped, frowning. "Hank, why is it so hard to find good men 
for any job nowadays?" 

"I don't know ..." 

He looked at the lines of the mountains cut across the sky. A thin jet of 
smoke was rising from a distant valley. 

"Have you seen the new towns of Colorado and the factories?" he asked. 
"Yes . " 

"It's great, isn't it?— to see the kind of men they've gathered here from 
every corner of the country. All of them young, all of them starting on a 
shoestring and moving mountains." 

"What mountain have you decided to move?" 


"What are you doing in Colorado?" 

He smiled. "Looking at a mining property." 

"What sort?" 

"Copper . " 

"Good God, don't you have enough to do?" 

"I know it's a complicated job. But the supply of copper is becoming 
completely unreliable. There doesn't seem to be a single first-rate company 
left in the business in this country— and I don't want to deal with d'Anconia 
Copper. I don't trust that playboy." 

"I don't blame you," she said, looking away. 

"So if there's no competent person left to do it, I'll have to mine my own 
copper, as I mine my own iron ore. I can't take any chances on being held up 
by all those failures and shortages. I need a great deal of copper for 
Rearden Metal." 

"Have you bought the mine?" 

"Not yet. There are a few problems to solve. Getting the men, the 
equipment, the transportation." 

"Oh . . . !" She chuckled. "Going to speak to me about building a branch 

"Might. There's no limit to what's possible in this state. Do you know 
that they have every kind of natural resource here, waiting, untouched? And 
the way their factories are growing! I feel ten years younger when I come 
here . " 

"I don't." She was looking east, past the mountains. "I think of the 
contrast, all over the rest of the Taggart system. There's less to carry, 
less tonnage produced each year. It's as if . . . Hank, what's wrong with the 
country? " 

"I don't know." 

"I keep thinking of what they told us in school about the sun losing 
energy, growing colder each year. I remember wondering, then, what it would 
be like in the last days of the world. I think it would be . . . 

like this. Growing colder and things stopping." 

"I never believed that story. I thought by the time the sun was exhausted, 
men would find a substitute." 

"You did? Funny. I thought that, too." 

He pointed at the column of smoke. "There's your new sunrise. It's going 
to feed the rest." 

"If it's not stopped." 

"Do you think it can be stopped?" 

She looked at the rail under her feet. "No," she said. 

He smiled. He looked down at the rail, then let his eyes move along the 
track, up the sides of the mountains, to the distant crane. She saw two 

things, as if, for a moment, the two stood alone in her field of vision: the 
lines of his profile and the green-blue cord coiling through space. 
"We've done it, haven't we?" he said. 

In payment for every effort, for every sleepless night, for every silent 
thrust against despair, this moment was all she wanted. "Yes. We have." 

She looked away, noticed an old crane on a siding, and thought that its 
cables were worn and would need replacing: This was the great clarity of 
being beyond emotion, after the reward of having felt everything one could 
feel. Their achievement, she thought, and one moment of acknowledging it, of 
possessing it together— what greater intimacy could one share? Now she was 
free for the simplest, most commonplace concerns of the moment, because 
nothing could be meaningless within her sight. 

She wondered what made her certain that he felt as she did. He turned 
abruptly and started toward his car. She followed. They did not look at each 
other . 

"I'm due to leave for the East in an hour," he said. 
She pointed at the car. "Where did you get that?" 

"Here. It's a Hammond. Hammond of Colorado— they ' re the only people who ' re 
still making a good car. I just bought it, on this trip." 
"Wonderful job." 
"Yes, isn't it?" 

"Going to drive it back to New York?" 

"No. Tm having it shipped. I flew my plane down here." 

"Oh, you did? I drove down from Cheyenne— I had to see the line —but I'm 
anxious to get home as fast as possible. Would you take me along? Can I fly 
back with you?" 

He did not answer at once. She noticed the empty moment of a pause. "I'm 
sorry, " he said; she wondered whether she imagined the note of abruptness in 
his voice. "I'm not flying back to New York. I'm going to Minnesota." 

"Oh well, then I'll try to get on an air liner, if I can find one today," 

She watched his car vanish down the winding road. She drove to the airport 
an hour later. The place was a small field at the bottom of a break in the 
desolate chain of mountains. There were patches of snow on the hard, pitted 
earth. The pole of a beacon stood at one side, trailing wires to the ground; 
the other poles had been knocked down by a storm. 

A lonely attendant came to meet her. "No, Miss Taggart, " he said 
regretfully, "no planes till day after tomorrow. There's only one 
transcontinental liner every two days, you know, and the one that was due 
today has been grounded, down in Arizona. Engine trouble, as usual." He 
added, "It's a pity you didn't get here a bit sooner. Mr. 

Rearden took off for New York, in his private plane, just a little while 
ago . " 

"He wasn't flying to New York, was be?" 
"Why, yes. He said so." 
"Are you sure?" 

"He said he had an appointment there tonight." 

She looked at the sky to the east, blankly, without moving. She had no 
clue to any reason, nothing to give her a foothold, nothing with which to 
weigh this or fight it or understand. 

"Damn these streets!" said James Taggart. "We're going to be late." 

Dagny glanced ahead, past the back of the chauffeur. Through the circle 
made by a windshield wiper on the sleet-streaked glass, she saw black, worn, 
glistening car tops strung in a motionless line. Far ahead, the smear of a 
red lantern, low over the ground, marked a street excavation. 

"There's something wrong on every other street," said Taggart irritably. 
"Why doesn't somebody fix them?" 

She leaned back against the seat, tightening the collar of her wrap. 

She felt exhausted at the end of a day she had started at her desk, in her 
office, at seven A.M.; a day she had broken off, uncompleted, to rush home 
and dress, because she had promised Jim to speak at the dinner of the New 
York Business Council "They want us to give them a talk about Rearden Metal," 
he had said. "You can do it so much better than I. It's very important that 
we present a good case. There's such a controversy about Rearden Metal." 

Sitting beside him in his car, she regretted that she had agreed. She 
looked at the streets of New York and thought of the race between metal and 
time, between the rails of the Rio Norte Line and the passing days. She felt 
as if her nerves were being pulled tight by the stillness of the car, by the 
guilt of wasting an evening when she could not afford to waste an hour. 

"With all those attacks on Rearden that one hears everywhere, " 

said Taggart, "he might need a few friends." 

She glanced at him incredulously. "You mean you want to stand by him?" 
He did not answer at once; he asked, his voice bleak, "That report of the 
special committee of the National Council of Metal Industries— 
what do you think of it?" 
"You know what I think of it." 

"They said Rearden Metal is a threat to public safety. They said its 
chemical composition is unsound, it's brittle, it's decomposing molecularly, 
and it will crack suddenly, without warning . . ."He stopped, as if begging 
for an answer. She did not answer. He asked anxiously, "You haven't changed 
your mind about it, have you?" 

"About what?" 

"About that metal . " 

"No, Jim, I have not changed my mind." 

"They're experts, though . . . the men on that committee. . . . 

Top experts . . . Chief metallurgists for the biggest corporations, with a 
string of degrees from universities all over the country . . ."He said it 
unhappily, as if he were begging her to make him doubt these men and their 
verdict . 

She watched him, puzzled; this was not like him. 

The car jerked forward. It moved slowly through a gap in a plank barrier, 
past the hole of a broken water main. She saw the new pipe stacked by the 
excavation; the pipe bore a trademark: Stockton Foundry, Colorado. She looked 
away; she wished she were not reminded of Colorado. 

"I can't understand it . . ." said Taggart miserably. "The top experts of 
the National Council of Metal Industries . . ." 

"Who's the president of the National Council of Metal Industries, Jim? 
Orren Boyle, isn't it?" 

Taggart did not turn to her, but his jaw snapped open. "If that fat slob 
thinks he can—" he started, but stopped and did not finish. 

She looked up at a street lamp on the corner. It was a globe of glass 
filled with light. It hung, secure from storm, lighting boarded windows and 
cracked sidewalks, as their only guardian. At the end of the street, across 
the river, against the glow of a factory, she saw the thin tracing of a power 
station. A truck went by, hiding her view. It was the kind of truck that fed 
the power station— a tank truck, its bright new paint impervious to sleet, 
green with white letters: Wyatt Oil, Colorado. 

"Dagny, have you heard about that discussion at the structural steel 
workers' union meeting in Detroit?" 

"No. What discussion?" 

"It was in all the newspapers. They debated whether their members should 
or should not be permitted to work with Rearden Metal. 

They didn't reach a decision, but that was enough for the contractor who 
was going to take a chance on Rearden Metal. He cancelled his order, but 
fast! . . . What if . . . what if everybody decides against it?" 

"Let them." 

A dot of light was rising in a straight line to the top of an invisible 
tower. It was the elevator of a great hotel. The car went past the building's 
alley. Men were moving a heavy, crated piece of equipment from a truck into 
the basement. She saw the name on the crate: Nielsen Motors, Colorado. 

"I don't like that resolution passed by the convention of the grade school 
teachers of New Mexico," said Taggart. 

"What resolution?" 

"They resolved that it was their opinion that children should not be 
permitted to ride on the new Rio Norte Line of Taggart Transcontinental when 
it's completed, because it is unsafe. . . . They said it specifically, the 
new line of Taggart Transcontinental. It was in all the newspapers. It's 
terrible publicity for us. . . . Dagny, what do you think we should do to 
answer them?" 

"Run the first train on the new Rio Norte Line." 

He remained silent for a long time. He looked strangely dejected. 

She could not understand it: he did not gloat, he did not use the opinions 
of his favorite authorities against her, he seemed to be pleading for 
reassurance . 

A car flashed past them; she had a moment's glimpse of power— a smooth, 
confident motion and a shining body. She knew the make of the car: Hammond, 
Colorado . 

"Dagny, are we . . . are we going to have that line built ... on time?" 
It was strange to hear a note of plain emotion in his voice, the 
uncomplicated sound of animal fear. 

"God help this city, if we don't!" she answered. 

The car turned a corner. Above the black roofs of the city, she saw the 
page of the calendar, hit by the white glare of a spotlight. It said: January 

"Dan Conway is a bastard!" 

The words broke out suddenly, as if he could not hold them any longer. 
She looked at him, bewildered. "Why?" 

"He refused to sell us the Colorado track of the Phoenix-Durango . " 
"You didn't—" She had to stop. She started again, keeping her voice flat 
in order not to scream. "You haven't approached him about it?" 
"Of course I have!" 

"You didn't expect him ... to sell it ... to you?" 

"Why not?" His hysterically belligerent manner was back, "I offered him 
more than anybody else did. We wouldn't have had the expense of tearing it up 
and carting it off, we could have used it as is. And it would have been 
wonderful publicity for us— that we're giving up the Rearden Metal track in 
deference to public opinion. It would have been worth every penny of it in 
good will! But the son of a bitch refused. He's actually declared that not a 
foot of rail would be sold to Taggart Transcontinental. He's selling it 
piecemeal to any stray comer, to one-horse railroads in Arkansas or North 
Dakota, selling it at a loss, way under what I offered him, the bastard! 
Doesn't even want to take a profit! And you should see those vultures 
flocking to him! They know they'd never have a chance to get rail anywhere 

She sat, her head bowed. She could not bear to look at him. 

"I think it's contrary to the intent of the Anti-dog-cat-dog Rule," he 
said angrily. "I think it was the intent and purpose of the National Alliance 
of Railroads to protect the essential systems, not the jerkwaters of North 
Dakota. But I can't get the Alliance to vote on it now, because they're all 
down there, outbidding one another for that rail!" 

She said slowly, as if she wished it were possible to wear gloves to 
handle the words, "I see why you want me to defend Rearden Metal." 

"I don't know what you're—" 
"Shut up, Jim, " she said quietly. 

He remained silent for a moment. Then he drew his head back and drawled 
defiantly, "You'd better do a good job of defending Rearden Metal, because 
Bertram Scudder can get pretty sarcastic." 

"Bertram Scudder?" 

"He's going to be one of the speakers tonight." 

"One of the . . . You didn't tell me there were to be other speakers." 
"Well . . . I . . . What difference does that make? You're not afraid of 
him, are you?" 

"The New York Business Council . . . and you invite Bertram Scudder?" 

"Why not? Don't you think it's smart? He doesn't have any hard feelings 
toward businessmen, not really. He's accepted the invitation. 

We want to be broad-minded and hear all sides and maybe win him over. . . 
. Well, what are you staring at? You'll be able to beat him, won't you?" 

". . .to beat him?" 

"On the air. It's going to be a radio broadcast. You're going to debate 
with him the question: 'Is Rearden Metal a lethal product of greed?' " 

She leaned forward. She pulled open the glass partition of the front seat, 
ordering, "Stop the car!" 

She did not hear what Taggart was saying. She noticed dimly that his voice 
rose to screams: "They're waiting! . . . Five hundred people at the dinner, 
and a national hook-up! . . . You can't do this to me!" 

He seized her arm, screaming, "But why?" 

"You goddamn fool, do you think I consider their question debatable?" 
The car stopped, she leaped out and ran. 

The first tiling she noticed after a while, was her slippers. She was 
walking slowly, normally, and it was strange to feel iced stone under the 
thin soles of black satin sandals. She pushed her hair back, off her 
forehead, and felt drops of sleet melting on her palm. 

She was quiet now; the blinding anger was gone; she felt nothing but a 
gray weariness. Her head ached a little, she realized that she was hungry and 
remembered that she was to have had dinner at the Business Council. She 
walked on. She did not want to eat. She thought she would get a cup of coffee 
somewhere, then take a cab home. 

She glanced around her. There were no cabs in sight. She did not know the 
neighborhood. It did not seem to be a good one. She saw an empty stretch of 
space across the street, an abandoned park encircled by a jagged line that 
began as distant skyscrapers and came down to factory chimneys; she saw a few 
lights in the windows of dilapidated houses, a few small, grimy shops closed 
for the night, and the fog of the East River two blocks away. 

She started back toward the center of the city. The black shape of a ruin 
rose before her. It had been an office building, long ago; she saw the sky 
through the naked steel skeleton and the angular remnants of the bricks that 
had crumbled. In the shadow of the ruin, like a blade of grass fighting to 
live at the roots of a dead giant, there stood a small diner. Its windows 
were a bright band of glass and light. She went in. 

There was a clean counter inside, with a shining strip of chromium at the 
edges. There was a bright metal boiler and the odor of coffee. A few 
derelicts sat at the counter, a husky, elderly man stood behind it, the 
sleeves of his clean white shirt rolled at the elbows. The warm air made her 
realize, in simple gratitude, that she had been cold. She pulled her black 
velvet cape tight about her and sat down at the counter. 

"A cup of coffee, please," she said. 

The men looked at her without curiosity. They did not seem astonished to 
see a woman in evening clothes enter a slum diner; nothing astonished anyone, 

these days. The owner turned impassively to fill her order; there was, in his 
stolid indifference, the kind of mercifulness that asks no questions. 

She could not tell whether the four at the counter were beggars or Working 
men; neither clothes nor manner showed the difference, these days. The owner 
placed a mug of coffee before her. She closed both hands about it, finding 
enjoyment in its warmth. 

She glanced around her and thought, in habitual professional calculation, 
how wonderful it was that one could buy so much for a dime. 

Her eyes moved from the stainless steel cylinder of the coffee boiler to 
the cast-iron griddle, to the glass shelves, to the enameled sink, to the 
chromium blades of a mixer. The owner was making toast. She found pleasure in 
watching the ingenuity of an open belt that moved slowly, carrying slices of 
bread past glowing electric coils. Then she saw the name stamped on the 
toaster: Marsh, Colorado. 

Her head fell down on her arm on the counter. 

"It's no use, lady," said the old bum beside her. 

She had to raise her head. She had to smile in amusement, at him and at 
herself . 

"It isn't?" she asked. 

"No. Forget it. You're only fooling yourself." 
"About what?" 

"About anything being worth a damn. It's dust, lady, all of it, dust and 
blood. Don't believe the dreams they pump you full of, and you won't get 
hurt. " 

"What dreams?" 

"The stories they tell you when you're young— about the human spirit. There 
isn't any human spirit. Man is just a low-grade animal, without intellect, 
without soul, without virtues or moral values. An animal with only two 
capacities: to eat and to reproduce." 

His gaunt face, with staring eyes and shrunken features that had been 
delicate, still retained a trace of distinction. He looked like the hulk of 
an evangelist or a professor of esthetics who had spent years in 
contemplation in obscure museums. She wondered what had destroyed him, what 
error on the way could bring a man to this. 

"You go through life looking for beauty, for greatness, for some sublime 
achievement," he said. "And what do you find? A lot of trick machinery for 
making upholstered cars or inner-spring mattresses." 

"What's wrong with inner-spring mattresses?" said a man who looked like a 
truck driver. "Don't mind him, lady. He likes to hear himself talk. He don't 
mean no harm. " 

"Man's only talent is an ignoble cunning for satisfying the needs of his 
body," said the old bum. "No intelligence is required for that. 

Don't believe the stories about man's mind, his spirit, his ideals, his 
sense of unlimited ambition." 

"I don't," said a young boy who sat at the end of the counter. He wore a 
coat ripped across one shoulder; his square-shaped mouth seemed formed by the 
bitterness of a lifetime. 

"Spirit?" said the old bum. "There's no spirit involved in manufacturing 
or in sex. Yet these are man's only concerns. Matter— that ' s all men know or 
care about. As witness our great industries— the only accomplishment of our 
alleged civilization— built by vulgar materialists with the aims, the 
interests and the moral sense of hogs. It doesn't take any morality to turn 
out a ten-ton truck on an assembly line." 

"What is morality?" she asked. 

"Judgment to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage 
to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the 
good at any price. But where does one find it?" 

The young boy made a sound that was half-chuckle, half-sneer: "Who is John 

She drank the coffee, concerned with nothing but the pleasure of feeling 
as if the hot liquid were reviving the arteries of her body. 

"I can tell you," said a small, shriveled tramp who wore a cap pulled low 
over his eyes. "I know." 

Nobody heard him or paid any attention. The young boy was watching Dagny 
with a kind of fierce, purposeless intensity. 

"You're not afraid," he said to her suddenly, without explanation, a fiat 
statement in a brusque, lifeless voice that had a note of wonder. 

She looked at him. "No," she said, "I'm not." 

"I know who is John Gait," said the tramp. "It's a secret, but I know it." 
"Who?" she asked without interest. 

"An explorer," said the tramp. "The greatest explorer that ever lived. The 
man who found the fountain of youth." 

"Give me another cup. Black," said the old bum, pushing his cup across the 
counter . 

"John Gait spent years looking for it. He crossed oceans, and he crossed 
deserts, and he went down into forgotten mines, miles under the earth. But he 
found it on the top of a mountain. It took him ten years to climb that 
mountain. It broke every bone in his body, it tore the skin off his hands, it 
made him lose his home, his name, his love. 

But he climbed it. He found the fountain of youth, which he wanted to 
bring down to men. Only he never came back." 

"Why didn't he?" she asked. 

"Because he found that it couldn't be brought down." 

The man who sat in front of Rearden's desk had vague features and a manner 
devoid of all emphasis, so that one could form no specific image of his face 
nor detect the driving motive of his person. His only mark of distinction 
seemed to be a bulbous nose, a bit too large for the rest of him; his manner 
was meek, but it conveyed a preposterous hint, the hint of a threat 
deliberately kept furtive, yet intended to be recognized. Rearden could not 
understand the purpose of his visit. He was Dr. Potter, who held some 
undefined position with the State Science Institute. 

"What do you want?" Rearden asked for the third time. 

"It is the social aspect that I am asking you to consider, Mr. 

Rearden," the man said softly, "I urge you to take note of the age we're 
living in. Our economy is not ready for it." 

"For what?" 

"Our economy is in a state of extremely precarious equilibrium. We all 
have to pool our efforts to save it from collapse." 
"Well, what is it you want me to do?" 

"These are the considerations which I was asked to call to your attention. 
I am from the State Science Institute, Mr. Rearden." 

"You've said so before. But what did you wish to see me about?" 

"The State Science Institute does not hold a favorable opinion of Rearden 
Metal . " 

"You've said that, too." 

"Isn't that a factor which you must take into consideration?" 
"No . " 

The light was growing dim in the broad windows of the office. The days 
were short. Rearden saw the irregular shadow of the nose on the man's cheek, 
and the pale eyes watching him; the glance was vague, but its direction 
purposeful . 

"The State Science Institute represents the best brains of the country, 
Mr. Rearden." 

"So I'm told. " 

"Surely you do not want to pit your own judgment against theirs?" 
"I do." 

The man looked at Rearden as if pleading for help, as if Rearden had 
broken an unwritten code which demanded that he should have understood long 
ago. Rearden offered no help. 

"Is this all you wanted to know?" he asked. 

"It's only a question of time, Mr. Rearden," the man said placatingly. 
"Just a temporary delay. Just to give our economy a chance to get stabilized. 
If you'd only wait for a couple of years—" 

Rearden chuckled, gaily, contemptuously. "So that's what you're after? 
Want me to take Rearden Metal off the market? Why?" 

"Only for a few years, Mr. Rearden. Only until—" 

"Look," said Rearden. "Now I'll ask you a question: did your scientists 
decide that Rearden Metal is not what I claim it is?" 
"We have not committed ourselves as to that." 
"Did they decide it's no good?" 

"It is the social impact of a product that must be considered. We are 
thinking in terms of the country as a whole, we are concerned with the public 
welfare and the terrible crisis of the present moment, which—" 

"Is Rearden Metal good or not?" 

"If we view the picture from the angle of the alarming growth of 
unemployment, which at present—" 
"Is Rearden Metal good?" 

"At a time of desperate steel shortage, we cannot afford to permit the 
expansion of a steel company which produces too much, because it might throw 
out of business the companies which produce too little, thus creating an 
unbalanced economy which—" 

"Are you going to answer my question?" 

The man shrugged. "Questions of value are relative. If Rearden Metal is 
not good, it's a physical danger to the public. If it is good- 
it's a social danger." 

"If you have anything to say to me about the physical danger of Rearden 
Metal, say it. Drop the rest of it. Fast. I don't speak that language." 
"But surely questions of social welfare—" 
"Drop it." 

The man looked bewildered and lost, as if the ground had been cut from 
under his feet. In a moment, he asked helplessly, "But what, then, is your 
chief concern?" 

"The market." 

"How do you mean?" 

"There's a market for Rearden Metal and I intend to take full advantage of 
it. " 

"Isn't the market somewhat hypothetical? The public response to your metal 
has not been encouraging. Except for the order from Taggart Transcontinental, 
you haven't obtained any major—" 

"Well, then, if you think the public won't go for it, what are you 
worrying about?" 

"If the public doesn't go for it, you will take a heavy loss, Mr. 
Rearden . " 

"That's my worry, not yours." 

"Whereas, if you adopt a more co-operative attitude and agree to wait for 
a few years—" 

"Why should I wait?" 

"But I believe I have made it clear that the State Science Institute does 
not approve of the appearance of Rearden Metal on the metallurgical scene at 
the present time." 

"Why should I give a damn about that?" 

The man sighed. "You are a very difficult man, Mr. Rearden." 

The sky of the late afternoon was growing heavy, as if thickening against 
the glass of the windowpanes. The outlines of the man's figure seemed to 
dissolve into a blob among the sharp, straight planes of the furniture. 

"I gave you this appointment, " said Rearden, "because you told me that you 
wished to discuss something of extreme importance. If this is all you had to 
say, you will please excuse me now. I am very busy." 

The man settled back in his chair. "I believe you have spent ten years of 
research on Rearden Metal," he said. "How much has it cost you?" 

Rearden glanced up: he could not understand the drift of the question, yet 
there was an undisguised purposef ulness in the man's voice; the voice had 
hardened . 

"One and a half million dollars," said Rearden. 
"How much will you take for it?" 

Rearden had to let a moment pass. He could not believe it. "For what?" he 
asked, his voice low. 

"For all rights to Rearden Metal." 

"I think you had better get out of here,"' said Rearden. 
"There is no call for such an attitude. You are a businessman. I am 
offering you a business proposition. You may name your own price." 
"The rights to Rearden Metal are not for sale." 

"I am in a position to speak of large sums of money. Government money." 

Rearden sat without moving, the muscles of his cheeks pulled tight; but 
his glance was indifferent, focused only by the faint pull of morbid 
curiosity . 

"You are a businessman, Mr. Rearden. This is a proposition which you 
cannot afford to ignore. On the one hand, you are gambling against great 
odds, you are bucking an unfavorable public opinion, you run a good chance of 
losing every penny you put into Rearden Metal. On the other hand, we can 
relieve you of the risk and the responsibility, at an impressive profit, an 
immediate profit, much larger than you could hope to realize from the sale of 
the metal for the next twenty years." 

"The State Science Institute is a scientific establishment, not a 
commercial one," said Rearden. "What is it that they're so afraid of?" 

"You are using ugly, unnecessary words, Mr. Rearden. I am endeavoring to 
suggest that we keep the discussion on a friendly plane. The matter is 
serious . " 

"I am beginning to see that." 

"We are offering you a blank check on what is, as you realize, an 
unlimited account. What else can you want? Name your price." 

"The sale of the rights to Rearden Metal is not open to discussion. 

If you have anything else to say, please say it and leave." 

The man leaned back, looked at Rearden incredulously and asked, "What are 
you after?" 

"I? What do you mean?" 

"You're in business to make money, aren't you?" 
"I am." 

"You want to make as big a profit as possible, don't you?" 
"I do." 

"Then why do you want to struggle for years, squeezing out your gains in 
the form of pennies per ton— rather than accept a fortune for Rearden Metal? 

"Because it's mine. Do you understand the word?" 

The man sighed and rose to his feet. "I hope you will not have cause to 
regret your decision, Mr. Rearden," he said; the tone of his voice was 
suggesting the opposite. 

"Good day," said Rearden. 

"I think I must tell you that the State Science Institute may issue an 
official statement condemning Rearden Metal." 
'That is their privilege." 

"Such a statement would make things more difficult for you." 
"Undoubtedly. " 

"As to further consequences . . ." The man shrugged. "This is not the day 
for people who refuse to co-operate. In this age, one needs friends. You are 
not a popular man, Mr. Rearden." 

"What are you trying to say?" 

"Surely, you understand." 

"I don't." 

"Society is a complex structure. There are so many different issues 
awaiting decision, hanging by a thin thread. We can never tell when one such 
issue may he decided and what may be the decisive factor in a delicate 
balance. Do I make myself clear?" 

"No. " 

The red flame of poured steel shot through the twilight. An orange glow, 
the color of deep gold, hit the wall behind Rearden 's desk. 

The glow moved gently across his forehead. His face had an unmoving 
serenity . 

"The State Science Institute is a government organization, Mr. 

Rearden. There are certain bills pending in the Legislature, which may be 
passed at any moment. Businessmen are peculiarly vulnerable these days. I am 
sure you understand me." 

Rearden rose to his feet. He was smiling. He looked as if all tension had 
left him. 

"No, Dr. Potter," he said, "I don't understand. If I did, I'd have to kill 
you . " 

The man walked to the door, then stopped and looked at Rearden in a way 
which, for once, was simple human curiosity. Rearden stood motionless against 
the moving glow on the wall; he stood casually, his hands in his pockets. 

"Would you tell me," the man asked, "just between us, it's only my 
personal curiosity— why are you doing this?" 

Rearden answered quietly, "I'll tell you. You won't understand. You see, 
it's because Rearden Metal is good." 

Dagny could not understand Mr. Mowen ' s motive. The Amalgamated Switch and 
Signal Company had suddenly given notice that they would not complete her 
order. Nothing had happened, she could find no cause for it and they would 
give no explanation. 

She had hurried to Connecticut, to see Mr. Mowen in person, but the sole 
result of the interview was a heavier, grayer weight of bewilderment in her 
mind. Mr. Mowen stated that he would not continue to make switches of Rearden 
Metal. For sole explanation, he said, avoiding her eyes, "Too many people 
don't like it." 

"What? Rearden Metal or your making the switches?" 

"Both, I guess . . . People don't like it ... I don't want any trouble." 
"What kind of trouble?" 
"Any kind." 

"Have you heard a single thing against Rearden Metal that's true?" 

"Aw, who knows what's true? . . . That resolution of the National Council 
of Metal Industries said—" 

"Look, you've worked with metals all your life. For the last four months, 
you've worked with Rearden Metal. Don't you know that it's the greatest thing 
you've ever handled?" He did not answer. "Don't you know it?" He looked away. 
"Don't you know what's true?" 

"Hell, Miss Taggart, I'm in business, I'm only a little guy. I just want 
to make money." 

"How do you think one makes it?" 

But she knew that it was useless. Looking at Mr. Mowen ' s face, at the eyes 
which she could not catch, she felt as she had felt once on a lonely section 
of track, when a storm blew down the telephone wires: that communications 
were cut and that words had become sounds which transmitted nothing. 

It was useless to argue, she thought, and to wonder about people who would 
neither refute an argument nor accept it. Sitting restlessly in the train, on 
her way back to New York, she told herself that Mr. 

Mowen did not matter, that nothing mattered now, except finding somebody 
else to manufacture the switches. She was wrestling with a list of names in 
her mind, wondering who would be easiest to convince, to beg or to bribe. 

She knew, the moment she entered the anteroom of her office, that 
something had happened. She saw the unnatural stillness, with the faces of 
her staff turned to her as if her entrance were the moment they had all 
waited for, hoped for and dreaded. 

Eddie Willers rose to his feet and started toward the door of her office, 
as if knowing that she would understand and follow. She had seen his face. No 
matter what it was, she thought, she wished it had not hurt him quite so 

"The State Science Institute, " he said quietly, when they were alone in 
her office, "has issued a statement warning people against the use of Rearden 
Metal." He added, "It was on the radio. It's in the afternoon papers." 

"What did they say?" 

"Dagny, they didn't say it! . . . They haven't really said it, yet it's 
there— and it isn't. That's what's monstrous about it." 

His effort was focused on keeping his voice quiet; he could not control 
his words. The words were forced out of him by the unbelieving. 

bewildered indignation of a child screaming in denial at his first 
encounter with evil. 

"What did they say, Eddie?" 

"They . . . You'd have to read it." He pointed to the newspaper he had 
left on her desk. "They haven't said that Rearden Metal is bad. 

They haven't said that it's unsafe. What they've done is . . ." His hands 
spread and dropped in a gesture of futility. 

She saw at a glance what they had done. She saw the sentences: "It may be 
possible that after a period of heavy usage, a sudden fissure may appear, 
though the length of this period cannot be predicted. . . . The possibility 
of a molecular reaction, at present unknown, cannot be entirely discounted. . 
. . Although the tensile strength of the metal is obviously demonstrable, 
certain questions in regard to its behavior under unusual stress are not to 
be ruled out. 

. . . Although there is no evidence to support the contention that the use 
of the metal should be prohibited, a further study of its properties would be 
of value." 

"We can't fight it. It can't be answered," Eddie was saying slowly. 

"We can't demand a retraction. We can't show them our tests or prove 
anything. They've said nothing. They haven't said a thing that could be 
refuted and embarrass them professionally. It's the job of a coward. 

You'd expect it from some con-man or blackmailer. But, Dagny! It's the 
State Science Institute!" 

She nodded silently. She stood, her eyes fixed on some point beyond the 
window. At the end of a dark street, the bulbs of an electric sign kept going 
on and off, as if winking at her maliciously. 

Eddie gathered his strength and said in the tone of a military report, 
"Taggart stock has crashed. Ben Nealy quit. The National Brotherhood of Road 
and Track Workers has forbidden its members to work on the Rio Norte Line. 
Jim has left town." 

She took her hat and coat off, walked across the room and slowly, very 
deliberately sat down at her desk. 

She noticed a large brown envelope lying before her; it bore the 
letterhead of Rearden Steel. 

"That came by special messenger, right after you left," said Eddie. 

She put her hand on the envelope, but did not open it. She knew what it 
was: the drawings of the bridge. 

After a while, she asked, "Who issued that statement?" 

Eddie glanced at her and smiled briefly, bitterly, shaking his head. 

"No," he said. "I thought of that, too. I called the Institute long 
distance and asked them. No, it was issued by the office of Dr. Floyd Ferris, 
their co-ordinator . " 

She said nothing. 

"But still! Dr. Stadler is the head of that Institute. He is the 
Institute. He must have known about it. He permitted it. If it's done, it's 
done in his name . . .Dr. Robert Stadler ... Do you remember . . . when we 
were in college . . . how we used to talk about the great names in the world 
. . . the men of pure intellect . . . and we always chose his name as one of 
them, and—" He stopped. "I'm sorry, Dagny. I know it's no use saying 
anything. Only—" 

She sat, her hand pressed to the brown envelope. 

"Dagny," he asked, his voice low, "what is happening to people? 

Why did that statement succeed? It's such an obvious smear- job, so obvious 
and so rotten. You'd think a decent person would throw it in the gutter. How 
could"— his voice was breaking in gentle, desperate, rebellious anger— "how 
could they accept it? Didn't they read it? 

Didn't they see? Don't they think? Dagny! What is it in people that lets 
them do this— and how can we live with it?" 

"Quiet, Eddie," she said, "quiet. Don't be afraid." 

The building of the State Science Institute stood over a river of New 
Hampshire, on a lonely hillside, halfway between the river and the sky. From 
a distance, it looked like a solitary monument in a virgin forest. The trees 
were carefully planted, the roads were laid out as a park, the roof tops of a 
small town could be seen in a valley some miles away. But nothing had been 
allowed to come too close and detract from the building's austerity. 

The white marble of the walls gave it a classical grandeur; the 
composition of its rectangular masses gave it the cleanliness and beauty of a 
modern plant. It was an inspired structure. From across the river, people 
looked at it with reverence and thought of it as a monument to a living man 
whose character had the nobility of the building's lines. 

Over the entrance, a dedication was cut into the marble: "To the fearless 
mind. To the inviolate truth." In a quiet aisle, in a bare corridor, a small 
brass plate, such as dozens of other name plates on other doors, said: Dr. 
Robert Stadler. 

At the age of twenty-seven, Dr. Robert Stadler had written a treatise on 
cosmic rays, which demolished most of the theories held by the scientists who 
preceded him. Those who followed, found his achievement somewhere at the base 
of any line of inquiry they undertook. 

At the age of thirty, he was recognized as the greatest physicist of his 
time. At thirty-two, he became head of the Department of Physics of the 
Patrick Henry University, in the days when the great University still 
deserved its glory. It was of Dr. Robert Stadler that a writer had said: 
"Perhaps, among the phenomena of the universe which he is studying, none is 
so miraculous as the brain of Dr. Robert Stadler himself." It was Dr. Robert 
Stadler who had once corrected a student: "Free scientific inquiry? The first 
adjective is redundant." 

At the age of forty, Dr. Robert Stadler addressed the nation, endorsing 
the establishment of a State Science Institute. "Set science free of the rule 
of the dollar," he pleaded. The issue had hung in the balance; an obscure 
group of scientists had quietly forced a bill through its long way to the 
floor of the Legislature; there had been some public hesitation about the 
bill, some doubt, an uneasiness no one could define. The name of Dr. Robert 
Stadler acted upon the country like the cosmic rays he studied: it pierced 
any barrier. The nation built the white marble edifice as a personal present 
to one of its greatest men. 

Dr. Stadler 's office at the Institute was a small room that looked like 
the office of the bookkeeper of an unsuccessful firm. There was n cheap desk 
of ugly yellow oak, a filing cabinet, two chairs, and a blackboard chalked 
with mathematical formulas. Sitting on one of the chairs against a blank 
wall, Dagny thought that the office had an air of ostentation and elegance, 
together: ostentation, because it seemed intended to suggest that the owner 
was great enough to permit himself such a setting; elegance, because he truly 
needed nothing else. 

She had met Dr. Stadler on a few occasions, at banquets given by leading 
businessmen or great engineering societies, in honor of some solemn cause or 
another. She had attended the occasions as reluctantly as he did, and had 
found that he liked to talk to her. "Miss Taggart, " 

he had said to her once, "I never expect to encounter intelligence. 

That I should find it here is such an astonishing relief!" She had come to 
his office, remembering that sentence. She sat, watching him in the manner of 
a scientist: assuming nothing, discarding emotion, seeking only to observe 
and to understand. 

"Miss Taggart," he said gaily, "I'm curious about you, I'm curious 
whenever anything upsets a precedent. As a rule, visitors are a painful duty 
to me. I'm frankly astonished that I should feel such a simple pleasure in 
seeing you here. Do you know what it's like to feel suddenly that one can 
talk without the strain of trying to force some sort of understanding out of 
a vacuum?" 

He sat on the edge of his desk, his manner gaily informal. He was not 
tall, and his slenderness gave him an air of youthful energy, almost of 
boyish zest. His thin face was ageless; it was a homely face, but the great 
forehead and the large gray eyes held such an arresting intelligence that one 
could notice nothing else. There were wrinkles of humor in the corners of the 
eyes, and faint lines of bitterness in the corners of the mouth. He did not 
look like a man in his early fifties; the slightly graying hair was his only 
sign of age. 

"Tell me more about yourself," he said. "I always meant to ask you what 
you're doing in such an unlikely career as heavy industry and how you can 
stand those people." 

"I cannot take too much of your time, Dr. Stadler." She spoke with polite, 
impersonal precision. "And the matter I came to discuss is extremely 
important . " 

He laughed. "There's a sign of the businessman— wanting to come to the 
point at once. Well, by all means. But don't worry about my time— it's yours. 
Now, what was it you said you wanted to discuss? 

Oh yes. Rearden Metal. Not exactly one of the subjects on which I'm best 
informed, but if there's anything I can do for you—" His hand moved in a 
gesture of invitation. 

"Do you know the statement issued by this Institute in regard to Rearden 

He frowned slightly. "Yes, I've heard about it." 
"Have you read it?" 
"No . " 

"It was intended to prevent the use of Rearden Metal." 
"Yes, yes, I gathered that much." 
"Could you tell me why?" 

He spread his hands; they were attractive hands— long and bony, beautiful 
in their suggestion of nervous energy and strength. "I really wouldn't know. 
That is the province of Dr. Ferris. I'm sure he had his reasons. Would you 
like to speak to Dr. Ferris?" 

"No. Are you familiar with the metallurgical nature of Rearden Metal, Dr. 

"Why, yes, a little. But tell me, why are you concerned about it?" 

A flicker of astonishment rose and died in her eyes; she answered without 
change in the impersonal tone of her voice, "I am building a branch line with 
rails of Rearden Metal, which—" 

"Oh, but of course! I did hear something about it. You must forgive me, I 
don't read the newspapers as regularly as I should. It's your railroad that's 
building that new branch, isn't it?" 

"The existence of my railroad depends upon the completion of that branch— 
and, I think, " eventually, the existence of this country will depend on it as 

The wrinkles of amusement deepened about his eyes. "Can you make such a 
statement with positive assurance, Miss Taggart? I couldn't." 
"In this case?" 

"In any case. Nobody can tell what the course of a country's future may 
be. It is not a matter of calculable trends, but a chaos subject to the rule 
of the moment, in which anything is possible." 

"Do you think that production is necessary to the existence of a country, 
Dr. Stadler?" 

"Why, yes, yes, of course." 

"The building of our branch line has been stopped by the statement of this 
Institute . " 

He did not smile and he did not answer. 

"Does that statement represent your conclusion about the nature of Rearden 
Metal?" she asked. 

"I have said that I have not read it." There was an edge of sharpness in 
his voice. 

She opened her bag, took out a newspaper clipping and extended it to him. 
"Would you read it and tell me whether this is a language which science may 
properly speak?" 

He glanced through the clipping, smiled contemptuously and tossed it aside 
with a gesture of distaste. "Disgusting, isn't it?" he said. "But what can 
you do when you deal with people?" 

She looked at him, not understanding. "You do not approve of that 
statement? " 

He shrugged. "My approval or disapproval would be irrelevant." 
"Have you formed a conclusion of your own about Rearden Metal?" 
"Well, metallurgy is not exactly— what shall we say?— my specialty." 
"Have you examined any data on Rearden Metal?" 

"Miss Taggart, I don't see the point of your questions." His voice sounded 
faintly impatient. 

"I would like to know your personal verdict on Rearden Metal," 
"For what purpose?" 

"So that I may give it to the press." 
He got up. "That is quite impossible." 

She said, her voice strained with the effort of trying to force 
understanding, "I will submit to you all the information necessary to form a 
conclusive judgment." 

"I cannot issue any public statements about it." 

"Why not?" 

"The situation is much too complex to explain in a casual discussion." 
"But if you should find that Rearden Metal is, in fact, an extremely 
valuable product which—" 

"That is beside the point." 

"The value of Rearden Metal is beside the point?" 

"There are other issues involved, besides questions of fact." 

She asked, not quite believing that she had heard him right, "What other 
issues is science concerned with, besides questions of fact?" 

The bitter lines of his mouth sharpened into the suggestion of a smile. 
"Miss Taggart, you do not understand the problems of scientists." 

She said slowly, as if she were seeing it suddenly in time with her words, 
"I believe that you do know what Rearden Metal really is." 

He shrugged. "Yes. I know. From such information as I've seen, it appears 
to be a remarkable thing. Quite a brilliant achievement— as far as technology 
is concerned." He was pacing impatiently across the office. "In fact, I 
should like, some day, to order a special laboratory motor that would stand 
just such high temperatures as Rearden Metal can take. It would be very 
valuable in connection with certain phenomena I should like to observe. I 
have found that when particles are accelerated to a speed approaching the 
speed of light, they—" 

"Dr. Stadler, " she asked slowly, "you know the truth, yet you will not 
state it publicly?" 

"Miss Taggart, you are using an abstract term, when we are dealing with a 
matter of practical reality." 

"We are dealing with a matter of science." 

"Science? Aren't you confusing the standards involved? It is only in the 
realm of pure science that truth is an absolute criterion. When we deal with 
applied science, with technology— we deal with people. 

And when we deal with people, considerations other than truth enter the 
question . " 

"What considerations?" 

"I am not a technologist, Miss Taggart. I have no talent or taste for 
dealing with people. I cannot become involved in so-called practical 
matters . " 

"That statement was issued in your name." 
"I had nothing to do with it!" 

"The name of this Institute is your responsibility." 
"That's a perfectly unwarranted assumption." 

"People think that the honor of your name is the guarantee behind any 
action of this Institute." 

"I can't help what people think— if they think at all!" 
"They accepted your statement. It was a lie." 
"How can one deal in truth when one deals with the public?" 
"I don't understand you," she said very quietly. 

"Questions of truth do not enter into social issues. No principles have 
ever had any effect on society." 

"What, then, directs men's actions?" 

He shrugged. "The expediency of the moment," 

"Dr. Stadler," she said, "I think I must tell you the meaning and the 
consequences of the fact that the construction of my branch line is being 
stopped. I am stopped, in the name of public safety, because I am using the 
best rail ever produced. In six months, if I do not complete that line, the 
best industrial section of the country will be left without transportation. 
It will be destroyed, because it was the best and there were men who thought 
it expedient to seize a share of its wealth." 

"Well, that may be vicious, unjust, calamitous— but such is life in 
society. Somebody is always sacrificed, as a rule unjustly; there is no other 
way to live among men. What can any one person do?" 

"You can state the truth about Rearden Metal." 

He did not answer. 

"I could beg you to do it in order to save me. I could beg you to do it in 
order to avert a national disaster. But I won't. These may not be valid 
reasons. There is only one reason; you must say it, because it is true." 

"I was not consulted about that statement!" The cry broke out 
involuntarily. "I wouldn't have allowed it! I don't like it any better than 
you do! But I can't issue a public denial!" 

"You were not consulted? Then shouldn't you want to find out the reasons 
behind that statement?" 

"I can't destroy the Institute now!" 

"Shouldn't you want to find out the reasons?" 

"I know the reasons! They won't tell me, but I know. And I can't say that 
I blame them, either." 
"Would you tell me?" 

"I'll tell you, if you wish. It's the truth that you want, isn't it? 

Dr. Ferris cannot help it, if the morons who vote the funds for this 
Institute insist on what they call results. They are incapable of conceiving 
of such a thing as abstract science. They can judge it only in terms of the 
latest gadget it has produced for them. I do not know how Dr. Ferris has 
managed to keep this Institute in existence, I can only marvel at his 
practical ability. I don't believe he ever was a first-rate scientist— but 
what a priceless valet of science! I know that he has been facing a grave 
problem lately. He's kept me out of it, he spares me all that, but I do hear 
rumors. People have been criticizing the Institute, because, they say, we 
have not produced enough. The public has been demanding economy. In times 
like these, when their fat little comforts are threatened, you may be sure 
that science is the first thing men will sacrifice. This is the only 
establishment left. There are practically no private research foundations any 
longer. Look at the greedy ruffians who run our industries. You cannot expect 
them to support science." 

"Who is supporting you now?" she asked, her voice low. 

He shrugged. "Society." 

She said, with effort, "You were going to tell me the reasons behind that 
statement . " 

"I wouldn't think you'd find them hard to deduce. If you consider that for 
thirteen years this Institute has had a department of metallurgical research, 
which has cost over twenty million dollars and has produced nothing but a new 
silver polish and a new anti-corrosive preparation, which, I believe, is not 
so good as the old ones— you can imagine what the public reaction will be if 
some private individual comes out with a product that revolutionizes the 
entire science of metallurgy and proves to be sensationally successful!" 

Her head dropped. She said nothing. 

"I don't blame our metallurgical department!" he said angrily. "I know 
that results of this kind are not a matter of any predictable time. 

But the public won't understand it. What, then, should we sacrifice? An 
excellent piece of smelting— or the last center of science left on earth, and 
the whole future of human knowledge? That is the alternative." 

She sat, her head down. After a while, she said, "AH right, Dr. Stadler. I 
won ' t argue . " 

He saw her groping for her bag, as if she were trying to remember the 
automatic motions necessary to get up. 

"Miss Taggart, " he said quietly. It was almost a plea. She looked up. 
Her face was composed and empty. 

He came closer; he leaned with one hand against the wall above her head, 
almost as if he wished to hold her in the circle of his arm. 

"Miss Taggart, " he said, a tone of gentle, bitter persuasiveness in his 
voice, "I am older than you. Believe me, there is no other way to live on 
earth, Men are not open to truth or reason. They cannot be reached by a 
rational argument. The mind is powerless against them. Yet we have to deal 
with them. If we want to accomplish anything, we have to deceive them into 
letting us accomplish it. Or force them. They understand nothing else. We 
cannot expect their support for any endeavor of the intellect, for any goal 
of the spirit. They are nothing but vicious animals. They are greedy, self- 
indulgent, predatory dollar-chasers who—" 

"I am one of the dollar-chasers, Dr. Stadler, " she said, her voice low. 

"You are an unusual, brilliant child who has not seen enough of life to 
grasp the full measure of human stupidity. I've fought it all my life. 

I'm very tired. . . ." The sincerity of his voice was genuine. He walked 
slowly away from her. "There was a time when I looked at the tragic mess 
they've made of this earth, and I wanted to cry out, to beg them to listen— I 
could teach them to live so much better than they did— but there was nobody to 
hear me, they had nothing to hear me with. . . . 

Intelligence? It is such a rare, precarious spark that flashes for a 
moment somewhere among men, and vanishes. One cannot tell its nature, or its 
future ... or its death. ..." 

She made a movement to rise. 

"Don't go, Miss Taggart. I'd like you to understand." 

She raised her face to him, in obedient indifference. Her face was not 
pale, but its planes stood out with strangely naked precision, as if its skin 
had lost the shadings of color. 

"You're young," he said. "At your age, I had the same faith in the 
unlimited power of reason. The same brilliant vision of man as a rational 
being. I have seen so much, since. I have been disillusioned so often. . . . 
I'd like to tell you just one story." 

He stood at the window of his office. It had grown dark outside. The 
darkness seemed to rise from the black cut of the river, far below. A few 
lights trembled in the water, from among the hills of the other shore. The 
sky was still the intense blue of evening. A lonely star, low over the earth, 
seemed unnaturally large and made the sky look darker. 

"When I was at the Patrick Henry University," he said, "I had three 
pupils. I have had many bright students in the past, but these three were- 
the kind of reward a teacher prays for. If ever you could wish to receive the 
gift of the human mind at its best, young and delivered into your hands for 
guidance, they were this gift. Theirs was the kind of intelligence one 
expects to see, in the future, changing the course of the world. They came 
from very different backgrounds, but they were inseparable friends. They made 
a strange choice of studies. They majored in two sub j ects— mine and Hugh 
Akston's. Physics and philosophy. It is not a combination of interests one 
encounters nowadays. Hugh Akston was a distinguished man, a great mind . . . 
unlike the incredible creature whom that University has now put in his place. 
. . . Akston and I were a little jealous of each other over these three 
students. It was a kind of contest between us, a friendly contest, because we 
understood each other, I heard Akston saying one day that he regarded them as 
his sons. I resented it a little . . . because I thought of them as mine. . . 

He turned and looked at her. The bitter lines of age were visible now, 
cutting across his cheeks. He said, "When I endorsed the establishment of 
this Institute, one of these three damned me. I have not seen him since. It 
used to disturb me, in the first few years. I wondered, once in a while, 
whether he had been right. ... It has ceased to disturb me, long ago." 

He smiled. There was nothing but bitterness now, in his smile and his 
face . 

'These three men, these three who held all the hope which the gift of 
intelligence ever proffered, these three from whom we expected such a 
magnificent future— one of them was Francisco d'Anconia, who became a depraved 
playboy. Another was Ragnar Danneskjold, who became a plain bandit. So much 
for the promise of the human mind." 

"Who was the third one?" she asked, He shrugged. "The third one did not 
achieve even that sort of notorious distinction. He vanished without a trace— 
into the great unknown of mediocrity. He is probably a second assistant 
bookkeeper somewhere." 

"It's a lie! I didn't run away!" cried James Taggart. "I came here because 
I happened to be sick. Ask Dr. Wilson. It's a form of flu. 

He'll prove it. And how did you know that I was here?" 

Dagny stood in the middle of the room; there were melting snowflakes on 
her coat collar, on the brim of her hat. She glanced around, feeling an 
emotion that would have been sadness, had she had time to acknowledge it. 

It was a room in the house of the old Taggart estate on the Hudson. 

Jim had inherited the place, but he seldom came here. In their childhood, 
this had been their father's study. Now it had the desolate air of a room 
which is used, yet uninhabited. There were slipcovers on all but two chairs, 
a cold fireplace and the dismal warmth of an electric heater with a cord 
twisting across the floor, a desk, its glass surface empty. 

Jim lay on the couch, with a towel wrapped for a scarf around his neck. 
She saw a stale, filled ashtray on a chair beside him, a bottle of whisky, a 
wilted paper cup, and two-day-old newspapers scattered about the floor. A 
portrait of their grandfather hung over the fireplace, full figure, with a 
railroad bridge in the fading background. 

"I have no time for arguments, Jim." 

"It was your idea! I hope you'll admit to the Board that it was your idea. 
That's what your goddamn Rearden Metal has done to us! If we had waited for 
Orren Boyle . . ." His unshaved face was pulled by a twisted scramble of 
emotions: panic, hatred, a touch of triumph, the relief of screaming at a 
victim— and the faint, cautious, begging look that sees a hope of help. 

He had stopped tentatively, but she did not answer. She stood watching 
him, her hands in the pockets of her coat. 

"There's nothing we can do now!" he moaned. "I tried to call Washington, 
to get them to seize the Phoenix-Durango and turn it over to us, on the 
ground of emergency, but they won't even discuss it! Too many people 
objecting, they say, afraid of some fool precedent or another! ... I got 
the National Alliance of Railroads to suspend the deadline and permit Dan 
Conway to operate his road for another year —that would have given us time- 
but he's refused to do it! I tried to get Ellis Wyatt and his bunch of 
friends in Colorado to demand that Washington order Conway to continue 
operations— but all of them, Wyatt and all the rest of those bastards, 
refused! It's their skin, worse than ours, they're sure to go down the drain- 
but they've refused!" 

She smiled briefly, but made no comment. 

"Now there's nothing left for us to do! We're caught. We can't give up 
that branch and we can't complete it. We can't stop or go on. We have no 
money. Nobody will touch us with a ten-foot pole! What have we got left 
without the Rio Norte Line? But we can't finish it. We'd be boycotted. We'd 
be blacklisted. That union of track workers would sue us. They would, there's 
a law about it. We can't complete that Line! Christ! What are we going to 

She waited. "Through, Jim?" she asked coldly. "If you are, I'll tell you 
what we're going to do." 

He kept silent, looking up at her from under his heavy eyelids. 

"This is not a proposal, Jim. It's an ultimatum. Just listen and accept. I 
am going to complete the construction of the Rio Norte Line. 

I personally, not Taggart Transcontinental. I will take a leave of absence 
from the job of Vice-President. I will form a company in my own name. Your 
Board will turn the Rio None Line over to me. I will act as my own 
contractor. I will get my own financing. I will take full charge and sole 
responsibility. I will complete the Line on time. After you have seen how the 
Rearden Metal rails can take it, I will transfer the Line back to Taggart 
Transcontinental and I'll return to my job. That is all," 

He was looking at her silently, dangling a bedroom slipper on the tip of 
his foot. She had never supposed that hope could look ugly in a man's face, 
but it did: it was mixed with cunning. She turned her eyes away from him, 
wondering how it was possible that a man's first thought in such a moment 
could be a search for something to put over on her. 

Then, preposterously, the first thing he said, his voice anxious, was, 
"But who will run Taggart Transcontinental in the meantime?" 

She chuckled; the sound astonished her, it seemed old in its bitterness. 

She said, "Eddie Willers." 

"Oh no ! He couldn ' t ! " 

She laughed, in the same brusque, mirthless way. "I thought you were 
smarter than I about things of this kind. Eddie will assume the title of 
Acting Vice-President. He will occupy my office and sit at my desk. 

But who do you suppose will run Taggart Transcontinental?" 

"But I don't see how—" 

"I will commute by plane between Eddie's office and Colorado. Also, there 
are long-distance phones available. I will do just what I have been doing. 
Nothing will change, except the kind of show you will put on for your friends 
. . . and the fact that it will be a little harder for me." 

"What show?" 

"You understand me, Jim. I have no idea what sort of games you're tangled 
in, you and your Board of Directors. I don't know how many ends you're all 
playing against the middle and against one another, or how many pretenses you 
have to keep up in how many opposite directions. I don't know or care. You 
can all hide behind me. 

If you're all afraid, because you've made deals with friends who ' re 
threatened by Rearden Metal— well, here's your chance to go through the 
motions of assuring them that you're not involved, that you're not doing 
this— I am. You can help them to curse me and denounce me. 

You can all stay home, take no risks and make no enemies. Just keep out of 
my way . " 

"Well . . ."he said slowly, "of course, the problems involved in the 
policy of a great railroad system are complex . . . while a small, 
independent company, in the name of one person, could afford to—" 

"Yes, Jim, yes, I know all that. The moment you announce that you're 
turning the Rio Norte Line over to me, the Taggart stock will rise. The 
bedbugs will stop crawling from out of unlikely corners, since they won't 
have the incentive of a big company to bite. Before they decide what to do 
about me, I will have the Line finished. And as for me, I don't want to have 
you and your Board to account to, to argue with, to beg permissions from. 
There isn't any time for that, if I am to do the kind of job that has to be 
done. So I'm going to do it alone." 

"And ... if you fail?" 

"If I fail, I'll go down alone." 

"You understand that in such case Taggart Transcontinental wilt not be 
able to help you in any way?" 
"I understand." 

"You will not count on us?" 
"No . " 

"You will cut all official connection with us, so that your activities 
will not reflect upon our reputation?" 
"Yes . " 

"I think we should agree that in case of failure or public scandal . . . 
your leave of absence will become permanent . . . that is, you will not 
expect to return to the post of Vice-President." 

She closed her eyes for a moment. "All right, Jim. In such case, I will 
not return . " 

"Before we transfer the Rio Norte Line to you, we must have a written 
agreement that you will transfer it back to us, along with your controlling 
interest at cost, in case the Line becomes successful. Otherwise you might 
try to squeeze us for a windfall profit, since we need that Line." 

There was only a brief stab of shock in her eyes, then she said 
indifferently, the words sounding as if she were tossing alms, "By all means, 
Jim. Have that stated in writing." 

"Now as to your temporary successor . . ." 


"You don't really want it to be Eddie Willers, do you?" 
"Yes. I do." 

"But he couldn't even act like a vice-president! He doesn't have the 
presence, the manner, the—" 

"He knows his work and mine. He knows what I want. I trust him. 
I'll be able to work with him." 

"Don't you think it would be better to pick one of our more distinguished 
young men, somebody from a good family, with more social poise and—" 
"It's going to be Eddie Willers, Jim." 

He sighed. "All right. Only . . . only we must be careful about it. 

. . . We don't want people to suspect that it's you who ' re still running 
Taggart Transcontinental. Nobody must know it." 

"Everybody will know it, Jim. But since nobody will admit it openly, 
everybody will be satisfied." 

"But we must preserve appearances." 

"Oh, certainly! You don't have to recognize me on the street, if you don't 
want to. You can say you've never seen me before and I'll say I've never 
heard of Taggart Transcontinental." 

He remained silent, trying to think, staring down at the floor. 

She turned to look at the grounds beyond the window. The sky had the even, 
gray-white pallor of winter. Far below, on the shore of the Hudson, she saw 
the road she used to watch for Francisco's car- 
she saw the cliff over the river, where they climbed to look for the 
towers of New York— and somewhere beyond the woods were the trails that led to 
Rockdale Station. The earth was snow-covered now, and what remained was like 
the skeleton of the countryside she remembered— a thin design of bare branches 
rising from the snow to the sky. 

It was gray and white, like a photograph, a dead photograph which one 
keeps hopefully for remembrance, but which has no power to bring back 
anything . 

"What are you going to call it?" 

She turned, startled. "What?" 

"What are you going to call your company?" 

"Oh . . . Why, the Dagny Taggart Line, I guess." 

"But ... Do you think that's wise? It might be misunderstood. 
The Taggart might be taken as—" 

"Well, what do you want me to call it?" she snapped, worn down to anger. 
"The Miss Nobody? The Madam X? The John Gait?" She stopped. She smiled 

suddenly, a cold, bright, dangerous smile. 'That's what I'm going to call it: 
the John Gait Line." 

"Good God, no!" 


"But it's . . . if s just a cheap piece of slang!" 

"You can't make a joke out of such a serious project! . . . You can't be 
so vulgar and . . . and undignified!" 
"Can't I?" 

"But for God's sake, why?" 

"Because it's going to shock all the rest of them just as it shocked you." 
"I've never seen you playing for effects." 
"I am, this time." 

"But . . ." His voice dropped to an almost superstitious sound: "Look, 
Dagny, you know, it's . . . it's bad luck. . . . What it stands for is . . ." 
He stopped. 

"What does it stand for?" 

"I don't know . . . But the way people use it, they always seem to say it 
out of-" 

"Fear? Despair? Futility?" 

"Yes . . . yes, that's what it is." 

"That's what I want to throw in their faces!" 

The bright, sparkling anger in her eyes, her first look of enjoyment, made 
him understand that he had to keep still. 

"Draw up all the papers and all the red tape in the name of the John Gait 
Line," she said. 

He sighed. "Well, it's your Line." 

"You bet it is ! " 

He glanced at her, astonished. She had dropped the manners and style of a 
vice-president; she seemed to be relaxing happily to the level of yard crews 
and construction gangs. 

"As to the papers and the legal side of it, " he said, "there might be some 
difficulties. We would have to apply for the permission of—" 

She whirled to face him. Something of the bright, violent look still 
remained in her face. But it was not gay and she was not smiling. The look 
now had an odd, primitive quality. When he saw it, he hoped he would never 
have to see it again. 

"Listen, Jim," she said; he had never heard that tone in any human voice. 
"There is one thing you can do as your part of the deal and you'd better do 
it: keep your Washington boys off. See to it that they give me all the 
permissions, authorizations, charters and other waste paper that their laws 
require. Don't let them try to stop me. If they try . . . Jim, people say 
that our ancestor, Nat Taggart, killed a politician who tried to refuse him a 
permission he should never have had to ask. I don't know whether Nat Taggart 
did it or not. But I'll tell you this: I know how he felt, if he did. If he 
didn't— I might do the job for him, to complete the family legend. I mean it, 
Jim. " 

Francisco d'Anconia sat in front of her desk. His face was blank. It had 
remained blank while Dagny explained to him, in the clear, impersonal tone of 
a business interview, the formation and purpose of her own railroad company. 
He had listened. He had not pronounced a word. 

She had never seen his face wear that look of drained passivity. 

There was no mockery, no amusement, no antagonism; it was as if he did not 
belong in these particular moments of existence and could not be reached. Yet 
his eyes looked at her attentively; they seemed to see more than she could 
suspect; they made her think of one-way glass: they let all light rays in, 
but none out . 

"Francisco, I asked you to come here, because I wanted you to see me in my 
office. You've never seen it. It would have meant something to you, once." 

His eyes moved slowly to look at the office. Its walls were bare, except 
for three things: a map of Taggart Transcontinental— the original drawing of 
Nat Taggart, that had served as model for his statue —and a large railroad 
calendar, in cheerfully crude colors, the kind that was distributed each 
year, with a change of its picture, to every station along the Taggart track, 
the kind that had hung once in her first work place at Rockdale. 

He got up. He said quietly, "Dagny, for your own sake, and"— it was a 
barely perceptible hesitation— "and in the name of any pity you might feel for 
me, don't request what you're going to request. 

Don't. Let me go now." 

This was not like him and like nothing she could ever have expected to 
hear from him. After a moment, she asked, "Why?" 

"I can't answer you. I can't answer any questions. That is one of the 
reasons why it's best not to discuss it." 

"You know what I am going to request?" 

"Yes." The way she looked at him was such an eloquent, desperate question, 
that he had to add, "I know that I am going to refuse." 

He smiled mirthlessly, spreading his hands out, as if to show her that 
this was what he had predicted and had wanted to avoid. 

She said quietly, "I have to try, Francisco. I have to make the request. 
That's my part. What you'll do about it is yours. But I'll know that I've 
tried everything." 

He remained standing, but he inclined his head a little, in assent, and 
said, "I will listen, if that will help you." 

"I need fifteen million dollars to complete the Rio Norte Line, I have 
obtained seven million against the Taggart stock I own free and clear. I can 
raise nothing else. I will issue bonds in the name of my new company, in the 
amount of eight million dollars. I called you here to ask you to buy these 
bonds . " 

He did not answer. 

"I am simply a beggar, Francisco, and I am begging you for money. 

I had always thought that one did not beg in business. I thought that one 
stood on the merit of what one had to offer, and gave value for value. This 
is not so any more, though I don't understand how we can act on any other 
rule and continue to exist. Judging by every objective fact, the Rio Norte 
Line is to be the best railroad in the country. Judging by every known 
standard, it is the best investment possible. And that is what damns me. I 
cannot raise money by offering people a good business venture: the fact that 
it's good, makes people reject it. There is no bank that would buy the bonds 
of my company. 

So I can't plead merit. I can only plead." 

Her voice was pronouncing the words with impersonal precision. She 
stopped, waiting for his answer. He remained silent. 

"I know that I have nothing to offer you," she said. "I can't speak to you 
in terms of investment. You don't care to make money. Industrial projects 
have ceased to concern you long ago. So I won't pretend that it's a fair 
exchange. It's just begging." She drew her breath and said, "Give me that 
money as alms, because it means nothing to you." 

"Don't," he said, his voice low. She could not tell whether the strange 
sound of it was pain or anger; his eyes were lowered. 

"Will you do it, Francisco?" 

"No . " 

After a moment, she said, "I called you, not because I thought you would 
agree, but because you were the only one who could understand what I am 

saying. So I had to try it." Her voice was dropping lower, as if she hoped it 
would make emotion harder to detect. "You see, I can't believe that you're 
really gone . . . because I know that you're still able to hear me. The way 
you live is depraved. But the way you act is not. Even the way you speak of 
it, is not. ... I had to try . . . 

But I can't struggle to understand you any longer." 

"I'll give you a hint. Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think 
that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that 
one of them is wrong." 

"Francisco," she whispered, "why don't you tell me what it was that 
happened to you?" 

"Because, at this moment, the answer would hurt you more than the doubt." 
"Is it as terrible as that?" 

"It is an answer which you must reach by yourself." 

She shook her head. "I don't know what to offer you. I don't know what is 
of value to you any longer. Don't you see that even a beggar has to give 
value in return, has to offer some reason why you might want to help him? . . 
. Well, I thought ... at one time, it meant a great deal to you— success. 
Industrial success. Remember how we used to talk about it? You were very 
severe. You expected a lot from me. 

You told me I'd better live up to it. I have. You wondered how far I'd 
rise with Taggart Transcontinental." She moved her hand, pointing at the 
office. "This is how far I've risen. . . . So I thought ... if the memory 
of what had been your values still has some meaning for you, if only as 
amusement, or a moment's sadness, or just like . . . like putting flowers on 
a grave . . . you might want to give me the money ... in the name of that." 

"No . " 

She said, with effort, "That money would mean nothing to you— you've wasted 
that much on senseless parties— you ' ve wasted much more on the San Sebastian 

He glanced up. He looked straight at her and she saw the first spark of a 
living response in his eyes, a look that was bright, pitiless and, 
incredibly, proud: as if this were an accusation that gave him strength. 

"Oh, yes," she said slowly, as if answering his thought, "I realize that. 
I've damned you for those mines, I've denounced you, I've thrown my contempt 
at you in every way possible, and now I come back to you— for money. Like Jim, 
like any moocher you've ever met. I know it's a triumph for you, I know that 
you can laugh at me and despise me with full justice. Well— perhaps I can 
offer you that. If it's amusement that you want, if you enjoyed seeing Jim 
and the Mexican planners crawl— wouldn ' t it amuse you to break me? Wouldn't it 
give you pleasure? Don't you want to hear me acknowledge that I'm beaten by 
you? Don't you want to see me crawling before you? Tell me what form of it 
you'd like and I'll submit." 

He moved so swiftly that she could not notice how he started; it only 
seemed to her that his first movement was a shudder. He came around the desk, 
he took her hand and raised it to his lips. It began as a gesture of the 
gravest respect, as if its purpose were to give her strength; but as he held 
his lips, then his face, pressed to her hand, she knew that he was seeking 
strength from it himself. 

He dropped her hand, he looked down at her face, at the frightened 
stillness of her eyes, he smiled, not trying to hide that his smile held 
suffering, anger and tenderness. 

"Dagny, you want to crawl? You don't know what the word means and never 
will. One doesn't crawl by acknowledging it as honestly as that. Don't you 
suppose I know that your begging me was the bravest thing you could do? But . 
. . Don't ask me, Dagny." 

"In the name of anything I ever meant to you . . . " she whispered, 
"anything left within you . . . " 

In the moment when she thought that she had seen this look before, that 
this was the way he had looked against the night glow of the city, when he 
lay in bed by her side for the last time— she heard his cry, the kind of cry 
she had never torn from him before: "My love, I can't!" 

Then, as they looked at each other, both shocked into silence by 
astonishment, she saw the change in his face. It was as crudely abrupt as if 
he had thrown a switch. He laughed, he moved away from her and said, his 
voice jarringly offensive by being completely casual: "Please excuse the 
mixture in styles of expression. I've been supposed to say that to so many 
women, but on somewhat different occasions." 

Her head dropped, she sat huddled tight together, not caring that he saw 


When she raised her head, she looked at him indifferently. "All right, 
Francisco. It was a good act. I did believe it. If that was your own way of 
having the kind of fun I was offering you, you succeeded. 

I won't ask you for anything." 

"I warned you." 

"I didn't know which side you belonged on. It didn't seem possible —but 
it's the side of Orren Boyle and Bertram Scudder and your old teacher." 
"My old teacher?" he asked sharply. 
"Dr. Robert Stadler." 

He chuckled, relieved. "Oh, that one? He's the looter who thinks that his 
end justifies his seizure of my means." He added, "You know, Dagny, I'd like 
you to remember which side you said I'm on. Some day, I'll remind you of it 
and ask you whether you'll want to repeat it." 

"You won't have to remind me." 

He turned to go. He tossed his hand in a casual salute and said, "If it 
could be built, I'd wish good luck to the Rio Norte Line." 

"It's going to be built. And it's going to be called the John Gait Line." 
"What? ! " 

It was an actual scream; she chuckled derisively. "The John Gait Line." 
"Dagny, in heaven's name, why?" 
"Don't you like it?" 

"How did you happen to choose that?" 

"It sounds better than Mr. Nemo or Mr. Zero, doesn't it?" 

"Dagny, why that?" 

"Because it frightens you." 

"What do you think it stands for?" 

"The impossible. The unattainable. And you're all afraid of my Line just 
as you're afraid of that name." 

He started laughing. He laughed, not looking at her, and she felt 
strangely certain that he had forgotten her, that he was far away, that he 
was laughing— in furious gaiety and bitterness— at something in which she had 
no part. 

When he turned to her, he said earnestly, "Dagny, I wouldn't, if I were 
you . " 

She shrugged. "Jim didn't like it, either." 
"What do you like about it?" 

"I hate it! I hate the doom you're all waiting for, the giving up, and 
that senseless question that always sounds like a cry for help. I'm sick of 
hearing pleas for John Gait. I'm going to fight him." 

He said quietly, "You are." 

"I'm going to build a railroad line for him. Let him come and claim it!" 
He smiled sadly and nodded: "He will." 

The glow of poured steel streamed across the ceiling and broke against one 
wall. Rearden sat at his desk, in the light of a single lamp. Beyond its 
circle, the darkness of the office blended with the darkness outside. He felt 
as if it were empty space where the rays of the furnaces moved at will; as if 
the desk were a raft hanging in mid-air, holding two persons imprisoned in 
privacy. Dagny sat in front of his desk. 

She had thrown her coat off, and she sat outlined against it, a slim, 
tense body in a gray suit, leaning diagonally across the wide armchair. 

Only her hand lay in the light, on the edge of the desk; beyond it, he saw 
the pale suggestion of her face, the white of a blouse, the triangle of an 
open collar. 

"All right, Hank," she said, "we're going ahead with a new Rearden Metal 
bridge. This is the official order of the official owner of the John Gait 
Line. " 

He smiled, looking down at the drawings of the bridge spread in the light 
on his desk. "Have you had a chance to examine the scheme we submitted?" 
"Yes. You don't need my comments or compliments. The order says it." 
"Very well. Thank you. I'll start rolling the Metal" 

"Don't you want to ask whether the John Gait Line is in a position to 
place orders or to function?" 

"I don't need to. Your coming here says it," 

She smiled. "True. It's all set, Hank. I came to tell you that and to 
discuss the details of the bridge in person." 

"All right, I am curious: who are the bondholders of the John Gait Line?" 

"I don't think any of them could afford it. All of them have growing 
enterprises. All of them needed their money for their own concerns. 

But they needed the Line and they did not ask anyone for help." She took a 
paper out of her bag. "Here's John Gait, Inc.," she said, handing it across 
the desk. 

He knew most of the names on the list: "Ellis.. Wyatt, Wyatt Oil, 
Colorado. Ted Nielsen, Nielsen Motors, Colorado. Lawrence Hammond, Hammond 
Cars, Colorado. Andrew Stockton, Stockton Foundry, Colorado." There were a 
few from other states; he noticed the name: "Kenneth Danagger, Danagger Coal, 
Pennsylvania." The amounts of their subscriptions varied, from sums in five 
figures to six. 

He reached for his fountain pen, wrote at the bottom of the list "Henry 
Rearden, Rearden Steel, Pennsylvania— $ 1 , 0 0 0 , 0 0 0 " and tossed the list back to 
her . 

"Hank," she said quietly, "I didn't want you- in on this. You've invested 
so much in Rearden Metal that it's worse for you than for any of us. You 
can't afford another risk." 

"I never accept favors," he answered coldly. 

"What do you mean?" 

"I don't ask people to take greater chances on my ventures than I take 
myself. If it's a gamble, I'll match anybody's gambling. Didn't you say that 
that track was my first showcase?" 

She inclined her head and said gravely, "All right. Thank you." 

"Incidentally, I don't expect to lose this money. I am aware of the 
conditions under which these bonds can be converted into stock at my option. 
I therefore expect to make an inordinate profit— and you're going to earn it 
for me." 

She laughed. "God, Hank, I've spoken to so many yellow fools that they've 
almost infected me into thinking of the Line as of a hopeless loss! Thanks 
for reminding me. Yes, I think I'll earn your inordinate profit for you." 

"If it weren't for the yellow fools, there wouldn't be any risk in it at 
all. But we have to beat them. We will." He reached for two telegrams from 

among the papers on his desk. "There are still a few men in existence." He 
extended the telegrams. "I think you'd like to see these." 

One of them read: "I had intended to undertake it in two years, but the 
statement of the State Science Institute compels me to proceed at once. 
Consider this a commitment for the construction of a 12inch pipe line of 
Rearden Metal, 600 miles, Colorado to Kansas City. 

Details follow. Ellis Wyatt." 

The other read: "Re our discussion of my order. Go ahead. Ken Danagger." 
He added, in explanation, "He wasn't prepared to proceed at once, either. 
It's eight thousand tons of Rearden Metal. Structural metal. 
For coal mines." 

They glanced at each other and smiled. They needed no further comment. 

He glanced down, as she handed the telegrams back to him. The skin of her 
hand looked transparent in the light, on the edge of his desk, a young girl's 
hand with long, thin fingers, relaxed for a moment, defenseless. 

"The Stockton Foundry in Colorado, " she said, "is going to finish that 
order for me— the one that the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company ran out 
on. They're going to get in touch with you about the Metal." 

"They have already. What have you done about the construction crews?" 

"Nealy's engineers are staying on, the best ones, those I need. And most 
of the foremen, too. It won't be too hard to keep them going. 

Nealy wasn't of much use, anyway." 

"What about labor?" 

"More applicants than I can hire. I don't think the union is going to 
interfere. Most of the applicants are giving phony names. They're union 
members. They need the work desperately. I'll have a few guards on the Line, 
but I don't expect any trouble." 

"What about your brother Jim's Board of Directors?" 

"They're all scrambling to get statements into the newspapers to the 
effect that they have no connection whatever with the John Gait Line and how 
reprehensible an undertaking they think it is. They agreed to everything I 
asked. " 

The line of her shoulders looked taut, yet thrown back easily, as if 
poised for flight. Tension seemed natural to her, not a sign of anxiety, but 
a sign of enjoyment; the tension of her whole body, under the gray suit, 
half-visible in the darkness, "Eddie Willers has taken over the office of 
Operating Vice-President, " 

she said. "If you need anything, get in touch with him. I'm leaving for 
Colorado tonight." 


"Yes. We have to make up time. We've lost a week." 
"Flying your own plane?" 

"Yes. I'll be back in about ten days, I intend to be in New York once or 
twice a month." 

"Where will you live out there?" 

"On the site. In my own railway car— that is, Eddie's car, which I'm 
borrowing . " 

"Will you be safe?" 

"Safe from what?" Then she laughed, startled. "Why, Hank, it's the first 
time you've ever thought that I wasn't a man. Of coarse I'll be safe." 

He was not looking at her; he was looking at a sheet of figures on his 
desk. "I've had my engineers prepare a breakdown of the cost of the bridge," 
he said, "and an approximate schedule of the construction time required. That 
is what I wanted to discuss with you." He extended the papers. She settled 
back to read them. 

A wedge of light fell across her face. He saw the firm, sensual mouth in 
sharp outline. Then she leaned back a little, and he saw only a suggestion of 
its shape and the dark lines of her lowered lashes. 

Haven't I?— he thought. Haven't I thought of it since the first time I saw 
you? Haven't I thought of nothing else for two years? ... He sat 
motionless, looking at her. He heard the words he had never allowed himself 
to form, the words he had felt, known, yet had not faced, had hoped to 
destroy by never letting them be said within his own mind. Now it was as 
sudden and shocking as if he were saying it to her. . . . Since the first 
time I saw you . . . Nothing but your body, that mouth of yours, and the way 
your eyes would look at me, if . . . Through every sentence I ever said to 
you, through every conference you thought so safe, through the importance of 
all the issues we discussed . . . You trusted me, didn't you? To recognize 
your greatness? To think of you as you deserved— as if you were a man? 

. . . Don't you suppose I know how much I've betrayed? The only bright 
encounter of my life— the only person I respected— the best businessman I know— 
my ally— my partner in a desperate battle . . . 

The lowest of all desires— as my answer to the highest I've met . . . 

Do you know what I am? I thought of it, because it should have been 
unthinkable. For that degrading need, which should never touch you, I have 
never wanted anyone but you ... I hadn't known what it was like, to want 
it, until I saw you for the first time. I had thought: Not I, I couldn't be 
broken by it . . . Since then . . . for two years . . . with not a moment's 
respite ... Do you know what it's like, to want it? Would you wish to hear 
what I thought when I looked at you . . . when I lay awake at night . . . 
when I heard your voice over a telephone wire . . . when I worked, but could 
not drive it away? 

. . . To bring you down to things you can't conceive— and to know that it's 
I who have done it. To reduce you to a body, to teach you an animal's 
pleasure, to see you need it, to see you asking me for it, to see your 
wonderful spirit dependent upon the obscenity of your need. To watch you as 
you are, as you face the world with your clean, proud strength— then to see 
you, in my bed, submitting to any infamous whim I may devise, to any act 
which I'll perform for the sole purpose of watching your dishonor and to 
which you'll submit for the sake of an unspeakable sensation ... I want 
you— and may I be damned for it! . . . 

She was reading the papers, leaning back in the darkness— he saw the 
reflection of the fire touching her hair, moving to her shoulder, down her 
arm, to the naked skin of her wrist. 

. . . Do you know what I'm thinking now, in this moment? . . . 
Your gray suit and your open collar . . . you look so young, so austere, 
so sure of yourself . . . What would you be like if I knocked your head back, 
if I threw you down in that formal suit of yours, if I raised your skirt- 
She glanced up at him. He looked down at the papers on his desk. 
In a moment, he said, "The actual cost of the bridge is less than our 
original estimate. You will note that the strength of the bridge allows for 
the eventual addition of a second track, which, I think, that section of the 
country will justify in a very few years. If you spread the cost over a 
period of—" 

He spoke, and she looked at his face in the lamplight, against the black 
emptiness of the office. The lamp was outside her field of vision, and she 
felt as if it were his face that illuminated the papers on the desk. His 
face, she thought, and the cold, radiant clarity of his voice, of his mind, 
of Ms drive to a single purpose. The face was like his words— as if the line 
of a single theme ran from the steady glance of the eyes, through the gaunt 
muscles of the cheeks, to the faintly scornful, downward curve of the mouth— 
the line of a ruthless asceticism. 

The day began with the news of a disaster: a freight train of the Atlantic 
Southern had crashed head-on into a passenger train, in New Mexico, on a 
sharp curve in the mountains, scattering freight cars all over the slopes. 
The cars carried five thousand tons of copper, bound from a mine in Arizona 
to the Rearden mills, Rearden telephoned the general manager of the Atlantic 
Southern, but the answer he received was: "Oh God, Mr. Rearden, how can we 
tell? How can anybody tell how long it will take to clear that wreck? 

One of the worst we've ever had ... I don't know, Mr. Rearden. 

There are no other lines anywhere in that section. The track is torn for 
twelve hundred feet. There's been a rockslide. Our wrecking train can't get 
through. I don't know how we'll ever get those freight cars back on rails, or 
when. Can't expect it sooner than two weeks . . . 

Three days? Impossible, Mr. Rearden! . . . But we can't help it! 

. . . But surely you can tell your customers that it's an act of God! 

What if you do hold them up? Nobody can blame you in a case of this kind!" 

In the next two hours, with the assistance of his secretary, two young 
engineers from his shipping department, a road map, and the long-distance 
telephone, Rearden arranged for a fleet of trucks to proceed to the scene of 
the wreck, and for a chain of hopper cars to meet them at the nearest station 
of the Atlantic Southern. The hopper cars had been borrowed from Taggart 
Transcontinental. The trucks had been recruited from all over New Mexico, 
Arizona and Colorado. Rearden 's engineers had hunted by telephone for private 
truck owners and had offered payments that cut all arguments short. 

It was the third of three shipments of copper that Rearden. had expected; 
two orders had not been delivered: one company had gone out of business, the 
other was still pleading delays that it could not help. 

He had attended to the matter without breaking his chain of appointments, 
without raising his voice, without sign of strain, uncertainty or 
apprehension; he had acted with the swift precision of a military commander 
under sudden fire— and Gwen Ives, his secretary, had acted as his calmest 
lieutenant. She was a girl in her late twenties, whose quietly harmonious, 
impenetrable face had a quality matching the best designed office equipment; 
she was one of his most ruthlessly competent employees; her manner of 
performing her duties suggested the kind of rational cleanliness that would 
consider any element of emotion, while at work, as an unpardonable 
immorality . 

When the emergency was over, her sole comment was, "Mr. Rearden, I think 
we should ask all our suppliers to ship via Taggart Transcontinental." "I'm 
thinking that, too," he answered; then added, "Wire Fleming in Colorado. Tell 
him I'm taking an option on that copper mine property." 

He was back at his desk, speaking to his superintendent on one phone and 
to his purchasing manager on another, checking every date and ton of ore on 
hand— he could not leave to chance or to another person the possibility of a 
single hour's delay in the flow of a furnace: it was the last of the rail for 
the John Gait Line that was being poured— when the buzzer rang and Miss Ives' 
voice announced that his mother was outside, demanding to see him. 

He had asked his family never to come to the mills without appointment. He 
had been glad that they hated the place and seldom appeared in his office. 
What he now felt was a violent impulse to order his mother off the premises. 
Instead, with a greater effort than the problem of the train wreck had 
required of him, he said quietly, "All right. Ask her to come in." 

His mother came in with an air of belligerent def ensiveness . She looked at 
his office as if she knew what it meant to him and as if she were declaring 
her resentment against anything being of greater importance to him than her 
own person. She took a long time settling down in an armchair, arranging and 
rearranging her bag, her gloves, the folds of her dress, while droning, "It's 

a fine thing when a mother has to wait in an anteroom and ask permission of a 
stenographer before she's allowed to see her own son who—" 

"Mother, is it anything important? I am very rushed today." 

"You're not the only one who's got problems. Of course, it's important. Do 
you think I'd go to the trouble of driving way 
out here, if it wasn't important?" 
"What is it?" 
"It's about Philip." 

"Philip is unhappy." 

"He feels it's not right that he should have to depend on your charity and 
live on handouts and never be able to count on a single dollar of his own." 

"Well!" he said with a startled smile. "I've been waiting for him to 
realize that." 

"It isn't right for a sensitive man to be in such a position." 
"It certainly isn't." 

"I'm glad you agree with me. So what you have to do is give him a job." 
"A . . . what?" 

"You must give him a job, here, at the mills— but a nice, clean job, of 
course, with a desk and an office and a decent salary, where he wouldn't have 
to be among your day laborers and your smelly furnaces." 

He knew that he was hearing it; he could not make himself believe it. 
"Mother, you're not serious." 

"I certainly am. I happen to know that that's what he wants, only 's too 
proud to ask you for it But if you offer it to him and make it look like it's 
you who ' re asking him a favor— why, I know he'd be happy to take it. That's 
why I had to come here to talk to you— so he wouldn't guess that I put you up 
to it." 

It was not in the nature of his consciousness to understand the nature of 
the things he was hearing. A single thought cut through his mind like a 
spotlight, making him unable to conceive how any eyes could miss it. The 
thought broke out of him as a cry of bewilderment: "But he knows nothing 
about the steel business!" 

"What has that got to do with it? He needs a job." 

"But he couldn't do the work." 

"He needs to gain self-confidence and to feel important." 
"But he wouldn't be any good whatever." 
"He needs to feel that he's wanted." 
"Here? What could I want him for?" 
"You hire plenty of strangers." 

"I hire men who produce. What has he got to offer?" 
"He's your brother, isn't he?" 
"What has that got to do with it?" 

She stared incredulously, in turn, silenced by shock. For a moment, they 
sat looking at each other, as if across an interplanetary distance. 

"He's your brother," she said, her voice like a phonograph record 
repeating a magic formula she could not permit herself to doubt. "He needs a 
position in the world. He needs a salary, so that he'd feel that he's got 
money coming to him as his due, not as alms." 

"As his due? But he wouldn't be worth a nickel to me." 

"Is that what you think of first? Your profit? I'm asking you to help your 
brother, and you're figuring how to make a nickel on him, and you won't help 
him unless there's money in it for you— is that it?" 

She saw the expression of his eyes, and she looked away, but spoke 
hastily, her voice rising. "Yes, sure, you're helping him— like you'd help any 
stray beggar. Material help— that's all you know or understand. Have you 

thought about his spiritual needs and what his position is doing to his self- 
respect? He doesn't want to live like a beggar. He wants to be independent of 
you . " 

"By means of getting from me a salary he can't earn for work he can't do?" 
"You'd never miss it. You've got enough people here who ' re making money 
for you . " 

"Are you asking me to help him stage a fraud of that kind?" 
"You don't have to put it that way." 
"Is it a fraud-or isn't it?" 

"That's why I can't talk to you— because you're not human. You have no 
pity, no feeling for your brother, no compassion for his feelings." 
"Is it a fraud or not?" 
"You have no mercy for anybody." 

"Do you think that a fraud of this kind would be just?" 

"You're the most immoral man living— you think of nothing but justice! You 
don't feel any love at all!" 

He got up, his movement abrupt and stressed, the movement of ending an 
interview and ordering a visitor out of his office. "Mother, I'm running a 
steel plant— not a whorehouse." 

"Henry!" The gasp of indignation was at his choice of language, nothing 
more . 

"Don't ever speak to me again about a job for Philip. I would not give him 
the job of a cinder sweeper. I would not allow him inside my mills. I want 
you to understand that, once and for all. You may try to help him in any way 
you wish, but don't ever let me see you thinking of my mills as a means to 
that end." 

The wrinkles of her soft chin trickled into a shape resembling a sneer. 
"What are they, your mills— a holy temple of some kind?" 

"Why . . . yes," he said softly, astonished at the thought. 

"Don't you ever think of people and of your moral duties?" 

"I don't know what it is that you choose to call morality. No, I don't 
think of people— except that if I gave a job to Philip, I wouldn't be able to 
face any competent man who needed work and deserved it." 

She got up. Her head was drawn into her shoulders, and the righteous 
bitterness of her voice seemed to push the words upward at his tall, straight 
figure: "That's your cruelty, that's what's mean and selfish about you. If 
you loved your brother, you'd give him a job he didn't deserve, precisely 
because he didn't deserve it— that would be true love and kindness and 
brotherhood. Else what's love for? If a man deserves a job, there's no virtue 
in giving it to him. Virtue is the giving of the undeserved." 

He was looking at her like a child at an unfamiliar nightmare, incredulity 
preventing it from becoming horror. "Mother," he said slowly, "you don't know 
what you're saying. I'm not able ever to despise you enough to believe that 
you mean it" 

The look on her face astonished him more than all the rest: it was a look 
of defeat and yet of an odd, sly, cynical cunning, as if, for a moment, she 
held some worldly wisdom that mocked his innocence. 

The memory of that look remained in his mind, like a warning signal 
telling him that he had glimpsed an issue which he had to understand. 

But he could not grapple with it, he could not force his mind to accept it 
as worthy of thought, he could find no clue except his dim uneasiness and his 
revulsion— and he had no time to give it, he could not think of it now, he was 
facing his next caller seated in front of his desk— he was listening to a man 
who pleaded for his life. 

The man did not state it in such terms, but Rearden knew that that was the 
essence of the case. What the man put into words was only a a for five 
hundred tons of steel. 

He was Mr. Ward, of the Ward Harvester Company of Minnesota. 

It was an unpretentious company with an unblemished reputation, the kind 
of business concern that seldom grows large, but never fails. Mr. 

Ward represented the fourth generation of a family that had owned the 
plant and had given it the conscientious best of such ability as they 

He was a man in his fifties, with a square, stolid face. Looking at him, 
one knew that he would consider it as indecent to let his face show suffering 
as to remove his clothes in public. He spoke in a dry, businesslike manner. 
He explained that he had always dealt, as his father had, with one of the 
small steel companies now taken over by Orren Boyle's Associated Steel. He 
had waited for his last order of steel for a year. He had spent the last 
month struggling to obtain a personal interview with Rearden. 

"I know that your mills are running at capacity, Mr. Rearden," he said, 
"and I know that you are not in a position to take care of new orders, what 
with your biggest, oldest customers having to wait their turn, you being the 
only decent— I mean, reliable— steel manufacturer left in the country. I don't 
know what reason to offer you as to why you should want to make an exception 
in my case. But there was nothing else for me to do, except close the doors 
of my plant for good, and I"— 

there was a slight break in his voice— "I can't quite see my way to closing 
the doors ... as yet . . . so I thought I'd speak to you, even if I didn't 
have much chance . . . still, I had to try everything possible." 

This was language that Rearden could understand, "I wish I could help you 
out, " he said, "but this is the worst possible time for me, because of a very 
large, very special order that has to take precedence over everything." 

"I know. But would you just give me a hearing, Mr. Rearden?" 

"Sure. " 

"If it's a question of money, I'll pay anything you ask. If I could make 
it worth your while that way, why, charge me any extra you please, charge me 
double the regular price, only let me have the steel. 

I wouldn't care if I had to sell the harvester at a loss this year, just 
so I could keep the doors open. I've got enough, personally, to run at a loss 
for a couple of years, if necessary, just to hold out— because, I figure, 
things can't go on this way much longer, conditions are bound to improve, 
they've got to or else we'll—" He did not finish. He said firmly, "They've 
got to." 

"They will," said Rearden. 

The thought of the John Gait Line ran through his mind like a harmony 
under the confident sound of his words. The John Gait Line was moving 
forward. The attacks on his Metal had ceased. He felt as if, miles apart 
across the country, he and Dagny Taggart now stood in empty space, their way 
cleared, free to finish the job. They'll leave us alone to do it, he thought. 
The words were like a battle hymn in his mind: They'll leave us alone. 

"Our plant capacity is one thousand harvesters per year," said Mr. 

Ward. "Last year, we put out three hundred. I scraped the steel together 
from bankruptcy sales, and begging a few tons here and there from big 
companies, and just going around like a scavenger to all sorts of unlikely 
places— well, I won't bore you with that, only I never thought I'd live to see 
the time when I'd have to do business that way. 

And all the while Mr. Orren Boyle was swearing to me that he was going to 
deliver the steel next week. But whatever he managed to pour, it went to new 
customers of his, for some reason nobody would mention, only I heard it 
whispered that they were men with some sort of political pull. And now I 
can't even get to Mr. Boyle at all. 

He's in Washington, been there for over a month. And all his office tells 
me is just that they can't help it, because they can't get the ore." 

"Don't waste your time on them," said Rearden. "You'll never get anything 
from that outfit." 

"You know, Mr. Rearden," he said in the tone of a discovery which he could 
not quite bring himself to believe, "I think there's something phony about 
the way Mr. Boyle runs his business. I can't understand what he's after. 
They've got half their furnaces idle, but last month there were all those big 
stories about Associated Steel in all the newspapers. About their output? 
Why, no— about the wonderful housing project that Mr. Boyle's just built for 
his workers. Last week, it was colored movies that Mr. Boyle sent to all the 
high schools, showing how steel is made and what great service it performs 
for everybody. 

Now Mr. Boyle's got a radio program, they give talks about the importance 
of the steel industry to the country and they keep saying that we must 
preserve the steel industry as a whole. I don't understand what he means by 
it as a whole." 

"I do. Forget it. He won't get away with it." 

"You know, Mr. Rearden, I don't like people who talk too much about how 
everything they do is just for the sake of others. It's not true, and I don't 
think it would be right if it ever were true. So I'll say that what I need 
the steel for is to save my own business. Because it's mine. Because if I had 
to close it ... oh well, nobody understands that nowadays." 

"I do." 

"Yes . . . Yes, I think you would. . . . So, you see, that's my first 
concern. But still, there are my customers, too. They've dealt with me for 
years. They're counting on me. It's just about impossible to get any sort of 
machinery anywhere. Do you know what it's getting to be like, out in 
Minnesota, when the farmers can't get tools, when machine break down in the 
middle of the harvest season and there are no parts, no replacements . . . 
nothing but Mr. Orren Boyle's colored movies about . . . Oh well . . . And 
then there are my workers, too. Some of them have been with us since my 
father's time. They've got no other place to go. Not now." 

It was impossible, thought Rearden, to squeeze more steel out of mills 
where every furnace, every hour and every ton were scheduled in advance for 
urgent orders, for the next six months. But . . . The John Gait Line, he 
thought. If he could do that, he could do anything. 

- . . He felt as if he wished to undertake ten new problems at once. 

He felt as if this were a world where nothing was impossible to him. 

"Look, " he said, reaching for the telephone, "let me check with my 
superintendent and see just what we're pouring in the next few weeks. 

Maybe I'll find a way to borrow a few tons from some of the orders and—" 

Mr. Ward looked quickly away from him, but Rearden had caught a glimpse of 
his face. It's so much for him, thought Rearden, and so little for me! 

He lifted the telephone receiver, but he had to drop it, because the door 
of his office flew open and Gwen Ives rushed in. 

It seemed impossible that Miss Ives should permit herself a breach of that 
kind, or that the calm of her face should look like an unnatural distortion, 
or that her eyes should seem blinded, or that her steps should sound a shred 
of discipline away from staggering. She said, "Excuse me for interrupting, 
Mr. Rearden," but he knew that she did not see the office, did not see Mr. 
Ward, saw nothing but him. "I thought I must tell you that the Legislature 
has just passed the Equalization of Opportunity Bill." 

It was the stolid Mr. Ward who screamed, "Oh God, no! Oh, no!"— 

staring at Rearden. 

Rearden had leaped to his feet. He stood unnaturally bent, one shoulder 
drooping forward. It was only an instant. Then he looked around him, as if 
regaining eyesight, said, "Excuse me, " his glance including both Miss Ives 
and Mr. Ward, and sat down again. 

"We were not informed that the Bill had been brought to the floor, were 
we?" he asked, his voice controlled and dry. 

"No, Mr. Rearden. Apparently, it was a surprise move and it took them just 
forty-five minutes." 

"Have you heard from Mouch?" 

"No, Mr. Rearden." She stressed the no. "It was the office boy from the 
fifth floor who came running in to tell me that he'd just heard it on the 
radio. I called the newspapers to verify it. I tried to reach Mr. 

Mouch in Washington. His office does not answer." 

"When did we hear from him last?" 

"Ten days ago, Mr. Rearden." 

"All right. Thank you, Gwen. Keep trying to get his office." 
"Yes, Mr. Rearden." 

She walked out. Mr. Ward was on his feet, hat in hand. He muttered, "I 
guess I'd better—" 

"Sit down!" Rearden snapped fiercely. 
Mr. Ward obeyed, staring at him. 

"We had business to transact, didn't we?" said Rearden. Mr. Ward could not 
define the emotion that contorted Rearden 's mouth as he spoke. "Mr. Ward, 
what is it that the foulest bastards on earth denounce us for, among other 
things? Oh yes, for our motto of 'Business as usual.' Well— business as usual, 
Mr. Ward!" 

He picked up the telephone receiver and asked for his superintendent. 
"Say, Pete . . . What? . . . Yes, I've heard. Can it. We'll talk about that 
later. What I want to know is, could you let me have five hundred tons of 
steel, extra, above schedule, in the next few weeks? 

. . . Yes, I know ... I know it's tough. . . . Give me the dates and the 
figures." He listened, rapidly jotting notes down on a sheet of paper. Then 
he said, "Right. Thank you," and hung up. 

He studied the figures for a few moments, marking some brief calculations 
on the margin of the sheet. Then he raised his head. 

"All right, Mr. Ward," he said. "You will have your steel in ten days." 

When Mr. Ward had gone, Rearden came out into the anteroom. 

He said to Miss Ives, his voice normal, "Wire Fleming in Colorado. 

He'll know why I have to cancel that option." She inclined her head, in 
the manner of a nod signifying obedience. She did not look at him. 

He turned to his next caller and said, with a gesture of invitation toward 
his office, "How do you do. Come in." 

He would think of it later, he thought; one moves step by step and one 
must keep moving. For the moment, with an unnatural clarity, with a brutal 
simplification that made it almost easy, his consciousness contained nothing 
but one thought: It must not stop me. The sentence hung alone, with no past 
and no future. He did not think of what it was that must not stop him, or why 
this sentence was such a crucial absolute. It held him and he obeyed. He went 
step by step. He completed his schedule of appointments, as scheduled. 

It was late when his last caller departed and he came out of his office. 
The rest of his staff had gone home. Miss Ives sat alone at her desk in an 
empty room. She sat straight and stiff, her hands clasped tightly together in 
her lap. Her head was not lowered, but held rigidly level, and her face 
seemed frozen. Tears were running down her cheeks, with no sound, with no 
facial movement, against her resistance, beyond control. 

She saw him and said dryly, guiltily, in apology, "I'm sorry, Mr. 

Rearden," not attempting the futile pretense of hiding her face. 

He approached her. "Thank you," he said gently. 

She looked up at him, astonished. 

He smiled. "But don't you think you're underestimating me, Gwen? 
Isn't it too soon to cry over me?" 

"I could have taken the rest of it, " she whispered, "but they"— she pointed 
at the newspapers on her desk— "they ' re calling it a victory for anti-greed." 

He laughed aloud. "I can see where such a distortion of the English 
language would make you furious," he said. "But what else?" 

As she looked at him, her mouth relaxed a little. The victim whom she 
could not protect was her only point of reassurance in a world dissolving 
around her. 

He moved his hand gently across her forehead; it was an unusual break of 
formality for him, and a silent acknowledgment of the things at which he had 
not laughed. "Go home, Gwen. I won't need you tonight. I'm going home myself 
in just a little while. No, I don't want you to wait." 

It was past midnight, when, still sitting at his desk, bent over 
blueprints of the bridge for the John Gait Line, he stopped his work 
abruptly, because emotion reached him in a sudden stab, not to be escaped any 
longer, as if a curtain of anesthesia had broken, He slumped down, halfway, 
still holding onto some shred of resistance, and sat, his chest pressed to 
the edge of the desk to stop him, his head hanging down, as if the only 
achievement still possible to him was not to let his head drop down on the 
desk. He sat that way for a few moments, conscious of nothing but pain, a 
screaming pain without content or limit— he sat, not knowing whether it was in 
his mind or his body, reduced to the terrible ugliness of pain that stopped 
thought . 

In a few moments, it was over. He raised his head and sat up straight, 
quietly, leaning back against his chair. Now he saw that in postponing this 
moment for hours, he had not been guilty of evasion: he had not thought of 
it, because there was nothing to think. 

Thought— he told himself quietly— is a weapon one uses in order to act. No 
action was possible. Thought is the tool by which one makes a choice. No 
choice was left to him. Thought sets one's purpose and the way to reach it. 
In the matter of his life being torn piece by piece out of him, he was to 
have no voice, no purpose, no way, no defense. 

He thought of this in astonishment. He saw for the first time that he had 
never known fear because, against any disaster, he had held the omnipotent 
cure of being able to act. No, he thought, not an assurance of victory— who 
can ever have that?— only the chance to act, which is all one needs. Now he 
was contemplating, impersonally and for the first time, the real heart of 
terror: being delivered to destruction with one's hands tied behind one's 

Well, then, go on with your hands tied, he thought. Go on in chains. 
Go on. It must not stop you. . . . But another voice was telling him 

things he did not want to hear, while he fought back, crying through and 

against it: There's no point in thinking of that . . . there's no use . . . 

what for? . . . leave it alone! 

He could not choke it off. He sat still, over the drawings of the bridge 

for the John Gait Line, and heard the things released by a voice that was 

part-sound, part-sight: They decided it without him. 

. . . They did not call for him, they did not ask, they did not let him 

speak. . . . They were not bound even by the duty to let him know- 
to let him know that they had slashed part of his life away and that he 

had to be ready to walk on as a cripple. ... Of ah" those concerned, 

whoever they were, for whichever reason, for whatever need, he was the one 

they had not had to consider. 

The sign at the end of a long road said: Rearden Ore. It hung over black 

tiers of metal . . . and over years and nights . . . over a clock ticking 

drops of his blood away . . . the blood he had given gladly, exultantly in 

payment for a distant day and a sign over a road . . paid for with his 

effort, his strength, his mind, his hope. 

Destroyed at the whim of some men who sat and voted . . . Who knows by 
what minds? . . . Who knows whose will had placed them in power?— 

what motive moved them?— what was their knowledge?— which one of them, 
unaided, could bring a chunk of ore out of the earth? . . . Destroyed at the 
whim of men whom he had never seen and who had never seen those tiers of 
metal . . . Destroyed, because they so decided. By what right? 

He shook his head. There are things one must not contemplate, he thought. 
There is an obscenity of evil which contaminates the observer. 

There is a limit to what it is proper for a man to see. He must not think 
of this, or look within it, or try to learn the nature of its roots. 

Feeling quiet and empty, he told himself that he would be all right 
tomorrow. He would forgive himself the weakness of this night, it was like 
the tears one is permitted at a funeral, and then one learns how to live with 
an open wound or with a crippled factory. 

He got up and walked to the window. The mills seemed deserted and still; 
he saw feeble snatches of red above black funnels, long coils of steam, the 
webbed diagonals of cranes and bridges. 

He felt a desolate loneliness, of a kind he had never known before. 

He thought that Gwen Ives and Mr. Ward could look to him for hope, for 
relief, for renewal of courage. To whom could he look for it? He, too, needed 
it, for once. He wished he had a friend who could be permitted to see him 
suffer, without pretense or protection, on whom he could lean for a moment, 
just to say, "I'm very tired," and find a moment's rest. Of all the men he 
knew, was there one he wished he had beside him now? He heard the answer in 
his mind, immediate and shocking: Francisco d'Anconia. 

His chuckle of anger brought him back. The absurdity of the longing jolted 
him into calm. That's what you get, he thought, when you indulge yourself in 
weakness . 

He stood at the window, trying not to think. But he kept hearing words in 
his mind: Rearden Ore . . . Rearden Coal . . . Rearden Steel . . . Rearden 
Metal . . . What was the use? Why had he done it? Why should he ever want to 
do anything again? . . . 

His first day on the ledges of the ore mines . . . The day when he stood 
in the wind, looking down at the ruins of a steel plant . . . The day when he 
stood here, in this office, at this window, and thought that a bridge could 
be made to carry incredible loads on just a few bars of metal, if one 
combined a truss with an arch, if one built diagonal bracing with the top 
members curved to— 

He stopped and stood still. He had not thought of combining a truss with 
an arch, that day. 

In the next moment, he was at his desk, bending over it, with one knee on 
the seat of the chair, with no time to think of sitting down, he was drawing 
lines, curves, triangles, columns of calculations, indiscriminately on the 
blueprints, on the desk blotter, on somebody's letters. 

And an hour later, he was calling for a long-distance line, he was waiting 
for a phone to ring by a bed in a railway car on a siding, he was saying, 
"Dagny! That bridge of ours— throw in the ash can all the drawings I sent you, 
because . . . What? . . . Oh, that? To hell with that! Never mind the looters 
and their laws! Forget it! Dagny, what do we care! Listen, you know the 
contraption you called the Rearden Truss, that you admired so much? It's not 
worth a damn. I've figured out a truss that will beat anything ever built! 
Your bridge will carry four trains at once, stand three hundred years and 
cost you less than your cheapest culvert. I'll send you the drawings in two 
days, but I wanted to tell you about it right now. You see, it's a matter of 
combining a truss with an arch. If we take diagonal bracing and . . . 

What? ... I can't hear you. Have you caught a cold? . . . What are you 
thanking me for, as yet? Wait till I explain it to you." 


The worker smiled, looking at Eddie Willers across the table. 

"I feel like a fugitive," said Eddie Willers. 'I guess you know why I 
haven't been here for months?" He pointed at the underground cafeteria. 

"I'm supposed to be a vice-president now. The Vice-President in Charge of 
Operation. For God's sake, don't take it seriously. I stood it as long as I 
could, and then I had to escape, if only for one evening. . . . The first 
time I came down here for dinner, after my alleged promotion, they all stared 
at me so much, I didn't dare come back. Well, let them stare. 

You don't. I'm glad that it doesn't make any difference to you. . . . 

No, I haven't seen her for two weeks. But I speak to her on the phone 
every day, sometimes twice a day. . . . Yes, I know how she feels: she loves 
it. What is it we hear over the telephone— sound vibrations, isn't it? Well, 
her voice sounds as if it were turning into light vibrations— if you know what 
I mean. She enjoys running that horrible battle single handed and winning. . 
. . Oh yes, she's winning! Do you know why you haven't read anything about 
the John Gait Line in the newspapers for some time? Because it's going so 
well . . . Only . . . that Rearden Metal rail will be the greatest track ever 
built, but what will be the use, if we don't have any engines powerful enough 
to take advantage of it? 

Look at the kind of patched coal-burners we've got left— they can barely 
manage to drag themselves fast enough for old trolley-car rails. . . . 

Still, there's hope. The United Locomotive Works went bankrupt. That's the 
best break we've had in the last few weeks, because their plant has been 
bought by Dwight Sanders. He's a brilliant young engineer who's got the only 
good aircraft plant in the country. He had to sell the aircraft plant to his 
brother, in order to take over United Locomotive. 

That's on account of the Equalization of Opportunity Bill. Sure, it's just 
a setup between them, but can you blame him? Anyway, we'll see Diesels coming 
out of the United Locomotive Works now. Dwight Sanders will start things 
going. . . . Yes, she's counting on him. Why do you ask that? . . . Yes, he's 
crucially important to us right now. We've just signed a contract with him, 
for the first ten Diesel engines he'll build. When I phoned her that the 
contract was signed, she laughed and said, "You see? Is there ever any reason 
to be afraid?' . . . She said that, because she knows— I've never told her, 
but she knows— that I'm afraid. . . . Yes, I am. ... I don't know ... I 
wouldn't be afraid if I knew of what, I could do something about it. But this 
. . . Tell me, don't you really despise me for being Operating Vice- 
President? . . . 

But don't you see that it's vicious? . . . What honor? I don't know what 
it is that I really am: a clown, a ghost, an understudy or just a rotten 
stooge. When I sit in her office, in her chair, at her desk, I feel worse 
than that: I feel like a murderer. . . . Sure, I know that I'm supposed to be 
a stooge for her— and that would be an honor— but . . . 

but I feel as if in some horrible way which I can't quite grasp, I'm a 
stooge for Jim Taggart. Why should it be necessary for her to have a stooge? 
Why does she have to hide? Why did they throw her out of the building? Do you 
know that she had to move out into a dinky hole in the back alley, across 
from our Express and Baggage Entrance? You ought to take a look at it some 
time, that's the office of John Gait, Inc. 

Yet everybody knows that it's she who's still running Taggart 
Transcontinental. Why does she have to hide the magnificent job she's doing? 

Why are they giving her no credit? Why are they robbing her of her 
achievement— with me as the receiver of stolen goods? Why are they doing 

everything in their power to make it impossible for her to succeed, when 
she's all they've got standing between them and destruction? Why are they 
torturing her in return for saving their lives? . . . What's the matter with 
you? Why do you look at me like that? . . . Yes, I guess you understand. . . 
. There's something about it all that I can't define, and it's something 
evil. That's why I'm afraid. ... I don't think one can get away with it. . 
. . You know, it's strange, but I think they know it, too, Jim and his crowd 
and all of them in the building. There's something guilty and sneaky about 
the whole place. Guilty and sneaky and dead. Taggart Transcontinental is now 
like a man who's lost his soul . . . who's betrayed his soul. . . . No, she 
doesn't care. Last time she was in New York, she came in unexpectedly— I was 
in my office, in her office— and suddenly the door opened and there she was. 
She came in, saying, 'Mr. Willers, I'm looking for a job as a station 
operator, would you give me a chance?' I wanted to damn them all, but I had 
to laugh, I was so glad to see her and she was laughing so happily. She had 
come straight from the airport— she wore slacks and a flying jacket— she looked 
wonderful— she ' d got windburned, it looked like a suntan, just as if she'd 
returned from a vacation. She made me remain where I was, in her chair, and 
she sat on the desk and talked about the new bridge of the John Gait Line. . 
. . No. No, I never asked her why she chose that name. ... I don't know 
what it means to her. A sort of challenge, I guess ... I don't know to whom 
. . . Oh, it doesn't matter, it doesn't mean a thing, there isn't any John 
Gait, but I wish she hadn't used it. I don't like it, do you? . . . You do? 
You don't sound very happy saying it." 

The windows of the offices of the John Gait Line faced a dark alley. 

Looking up from her desk, Dagny could not see the sky, only the wall of a 
building rising past her range of vision. It was the side wall of the great 
skyscraper of Taggart Transcontinental. 

Her new headquarters were two rooms on the ground floor of a half 
collapsed structure. The structure still stood, but its upper stories were 
boarded off as unsafe for occupancy. Such tenants as it sheltered were half- 
bankrupt, existing, as it did, on the inertia of the momentum of the past. 

She liked her new place: it saved money. The rooms contained no 
superfluous furniture or people. The furniture had come from junk shops. The 
people were the choice best she could find. On her rare visits to New York, 
she had no time to notice the room where she worked; she noticed only that it 
served its purpose. 

She did not know what made her stop tonight and look at the thin streaks 
of rain on the glass of the window, at the wall of the building across the 
alley . 

It was past midnight. Her small staff had gone. She was due at the airport 
at three A.M., to fly her plane back to Colorado. She had little left to do, 
only a few of Eddie's reports to read. With the sudden break of the tension 
of hurrying, she stopped, unable to go on. The reports seemed to require an 
effort beyond her power. It was too late to go home and sleep, too early to 
go to the airport. She thought: You're tired— and watched her own mood with 
severe, contemptuous detachment, knowing that it would pass. 

She had flown to New York unexpectedly, at a moment's notice, leaping to 
the controls of her plane within twenty minutes after hearing a brief item in 
a news broadcast. The radio voice had said that Dwight Sanders had retired 
from business, suddenly, without reason or explanation. She had hurried to 
New York, hoping to find him and stop him. 

But she had felt, while flying across the continent, that there would be 
no trace of him to find. 

The spring rain hung motionless in the air beyond the window, like a thin 
mist. She sat, looking across at the open cavern of the Express and Baggage 
Entrance of the Taggart Terminal. There were naked lights inside, among the 

steel girders of the ceiling, and a few piles of luggage on the worn concrete 
of the floor. The place looked abandoned and dead. 

She glanced at a jagged crack on the wall of her office. She heard no 
sound. She knew she was alone in the ruins of a building. It seemed as if she 
were alone in the city. She felt an emotion held back for years: a loneliness 
much beyond this moment, beyond the silence of the room and the wet, 
glistening emptiness of the street; the loneliness of a gray wasteland where 
nothing was worth reaching; the loneliness of her childhood. 

She rose and walked to the window. By pressing her face to the pane, she 
could see the whole of the Taggart Building, its lines converging abruptly to 
its distant pinnacle in the sky. She looked up at the dark window of the room 
that had been her office. She felt as if she were in exile, never to return, 
as if she were separated from the building by much more than a sheet of 
glass, a curtain of rain and the span of a few months. 

She stood, in a room of crumbling plaster, pressed to the windowpane, 
looking up at the unattainable form of everything she loved. She did not know 
the nature of her loneliness. The only words that named it were: This is not 
the world I expected. 

Once, when she was sixteen, looking at a long stretch of Taggart track, at 
the rails that converged— like the lines of a skyscraper— to a single point in 
the distance, she had told Eddie Willers that she had always felt as if the 
rails were held in the hand of a man beyond the horizon— no, not her father or 
any of the men in the office— and some day she would meet him. 

She shook her head and turned away from the window. 

She went back to her desk. She tried to reach for the reports. But 
suddenly she was slumped across the desk, her head on her arm. Don't, she 
thought; but she did not move to rise, it made no difference, there was no 
one to see her. 

This was a longing she had never permitted herself to acknowledge. 

She faced it now. She thought: If emotion is one's response to the things 
the world has to offer, if she loved the rails, the building, and more: if 
she loved her love for them— there was still one response, the greatest, that 
she had missed. She thought: To find a feeling that would hold, as their sum, 
as their final expression, the purpose of all the things she loved on earth . 
. . To find a consciousness like her own, who would be the meaning of her 
world, as she would be of his . . . No, not Francisco d'Anconia, not Hank 
Rearden, not any man she had ever met or admired ... A man who existed only 
in her knowledge of her capacity for an emotion she had never felt, but would 
have given her life to experience . . . She twisted herself in a slow, faint 
movement, her breasts pressed to the desk; she felt the longing in her 
muscles, in the nerves of her body. 

Is that what you want? Is it as simple as that?— she thought, but knew that 
it was not simple. There was some unbreakable link between her love for her 
work and the desire of her body; as if one gave her the right to the other, 
the right and the meaning; as if one were the completion of the other— and the 
desire would never be satisfied, except by a being of equal greatness. 

Her face pressed to her arm, she moved her head, shaking it slowly hi 
negation. She would never find it. Her own thought of what life could be 
like, was all she would ever have of the world she had wanted. Only the 
thought of it— and a few rare moments, like a few lights reflected from it on 
her way— to know, to hold, to follow to the end . . . 

She raised her head. 

On the pavement of the alley, outside her window, she saw the shadow of a 
man who stood at the door of her office. 

The door was some steps away; she could not see him, or the street light 
beyond, only his shadow on the stones of the pavement. He stood perfectly 
still . 

He was so close to the door, like a man about to enter, that she waited to 
hear him knock. Instead, she saw the shadow jerk abruptly, as if he were 
jolted backward, then he turned and walked away. There was only the outline 
of his hat brim and shoulders left on the ground, when he stopped. The shadow 
lay still for a moment, wavered, and grew longer again as he came back. 

She felt no fear. She sat at her desk, motionless, watching in blank 
wonder. He stopped at the door, then backed away from it; he stood somewhere 
in the middle of the alley, then paced restlessly and stopped again. His 
shadow swung like an irregular pendulum across the pavement, describing the 
course of a soundless battle: it was a man fighting himself to enter that 
door or to escape. 

She looked on, with peculiar detachment. She had no power to react, only 
to observe. She wondered numbly, distantly: Who was he? Had he been watching 
her from somewhere in the darkness? Had he seen her slumped across her desk, 
in the lighted, naked window? Had he watched her desolate loneliness as she 
was now watching his? She felt nothing. 

They were alone in the silence of a dead city— it seemed to her that he was 
miles away, a reflection of suffering without identity, a fellow survivor 
whose problem was as distant to her as hers would be to him. 

He paced, moving out of her sight, coming back again. She sat, watching— on 
the glistening pavement of a dark alley— the shadow of an unknown torment. 

The shadow moved away once more. She waited. It did not return. 

Then she leaped to her feet. She had wanted to see the outcome of the 
battle; now that he had won it— or lost— she was struck by the sudden, urgent 
need to know his identity and motive. She ran through the dark anteroom, she 
threw the door open and looked out. 

The alley was empty. The pavement went tapering off into the distance, 
like a band of wet mirror under a few spaced lights. There was no one in 
sight. She saw the dark hole of a broken window in an abandoned shop. Beyond 
it, there were the doors of a few rooming houses. Across the alley, streaks 
of rain glittered under a light that hung over the black gap of an open door 
leading down to the underground tunnels of Taggart Transcontinental. 

-k -k -k 

Rearden signed the papers, pushed them across the desk and looked away, 
thinking that he would never have to think of them again, wishing he were 
carried to the time when this moment would be far behind him. 

Paul Larkin reached for the papers hesitantly; he looked ingratiatingly 
helpless, "It's only a legal technicality, Hank," he said. "You know that 
I'll always consider these ore mines as yours." 

Rearden shook his head slowly; it was just a movement of his neck muscles; 
his face looked immovable, as if he were speaking to a stranger. 

"No!" he said. "Either I own a property or I don't." 

"But . . . but you know that you can trust me. You don't have to worry 
about your supply of ore. We've made an agreement. You know that you can 
count on me . " 

"I don't know it. I hope I can." 

"But I've given you my word." 

"I have never been at the mercy of anyone's word before." 

"Why . . . why do you say that? We're friends. I'll do anything you wish. 
You'll get my entire output. The mines are still yours— just as good as yours. 
You have nothing to fear. I'll . . . Hank, what's the matter?" 

"Don't talk." 

"But . . . but what's the matter?" 

"I don't like assurances. I don't want any pretense about how safe I am. 
I'm not. We have made an agreement which I can't enforce. I want you to know 

that I understand my position fully. If you intend to keep your word, don't 
talk about it, just do it." 

"Why do you look at me as if it were my fault? You know how badly I feel 
about it. I bought the mines only because I thought it would help you out— I 
mean, I thought you'd rather sell them to a friend than to some total 
stranger. It's not my fault. I don't like that miserable Equalization Bill, I 
don't know who's behind it, I never dreamed they'd pass it, it was such a 
shock to me when they—" 

"Never mind . " 

"But I only-" 

"Why do you insist on talking about it?" 

"I . . ." Larkin's voice was pleading. "I gave you the best price, Hank. 
The law said 'reasonable compensation.' My bid was higher than anyone 
else ' s . " 

Rearden looked at the papers still lying across the desk. He thought of 
the payment these papers gave him for his ore mines. Two-thirds of the sum 
was money which Larkin had obtained as a loan from the government; the new 
law made provisions for such loans "in order to give a fair opportunity to 
the new owners who have never had a chance." 

Two-thirds of the rest was a loan he himself had granted to Larkin, a 
mortgage he had accepted on his own mines. . . . And the government money, he 
thought suddenly, the money now given to him as payment for his property, 
where had that come from? Whose work had provided it? 

"'You don't have to worry, Hank," said Larkin, with that incomprehensible, 
insistent note of pleading in his voice. "It's just a paper formality." 

Rearden wondered dimly what it was that Larkin wanted from him. 

He felt that the man was waiting for something beyond the physical fact of 
the sale, some words which he, Rearden, was supposed to pronounce, some 
action pertaining to mercy which he was expected to grant. Larkin's eyes, in 
this moment of his best fortune, had the sickening look of a beggar. 

"Why should you be angry, Hank? It's only a new form of legal red tape. 
Just a new historical condition. Nobody can help it, if it's, a historical 
condition. Nobody can be blamed for it. But there's always a way to get 
along. Look at all the others. They don't mind. They're—" 

"They're setting up stooges whom they control, to run the properties 
extorted from them. I—" 

"Now why do you want to use such words?" 

"I might as well tell you— and I think you know it— that I am not good at 
games of that kind. I have neither the time nor the stomach to devise some 
form of blackmail in order to tie you up and own my mines through you. 
Ownership is a thing I don't share. And I don't wish to hold it by the grace 
of your cowardice— by means of a constant struggle to outwit you and keep some 
threat over your head. I don't do business that way and I don't deal with 
cowards. The mines are yours. If you wish to give me first call on all the 
ore produced, you will do so. 

If you wish to double-cross me, it's in your power." 

Larkin looked hurt. "That's very unfair of you," he said; there was a dry 
little note of righteous reproach in his voice. "I have never given you cause 
to distrust me." He picked up the papers with a hasty movement. 

Rearden saw the papers disappear into Larkin's inside coat pocket. 

He saw the flare of the open coat, the wrinkles of a vest pulled tight 
over flabby bulges, and a stain of perspiration in the armpit of the shirt. 

Unsummoned, the picture of a face seen twenty-seven years ago rose 
suddenly in his mind. It was the face of a preacher on a street corner he had 
passed, in a town he could not remember any longer. Only the dark walls of 
the slums remained in his memory, the rain of an autumn evening, and the 
righteous malice of the man's mouth, a small mouth stretched to yell into the 

darkness: ". . . the noblest ideal— that man live for the sake of his 
brothers, that the strong work for the weak, that he who has ability serve 
him who hasn't . . . " 

Then he saw the boy who had been Hank Rearden at eighteen. He saw the 
tension of the face, the speed of the walk, the drunken exhilaration of the 
body, drunk on the energy of sleepless nights, the proud lift of the head, 
the clear, steady, ruthless eyes, the eyes of a man who drove himself without 
pity toward that which he wanted. And he saw what Paul Larkin must have been 
at that time— a youth with an aged baby's face, smiling ingratiatingly, 
joylessly, begging to be spared, pleading with the universe to give him a 
chance. If someone had shown that youth to the Hank Rearden of that time and 
told him that this was to be the goal of his steps, the collector of the 
energy of his aching tendons, what would he have- 
It was not a thought, it was like the punch of a fist inside his skull. 
Then, when he could think again, Rearden knew what the boy he had been 
would have felt: a desire to step on the obscene thing which was Larkin and 
grind every wet bit of it out of existence. 

He had never experienced an emotion o[ this kind. It took him a few 
moments to realize that this was what men called hatred. 

He noticed that rising to leave and muttering some sort of good-byes, 
Larkin had a wounded, reproachful, mouth-pinched look, as if he, Larkin, were 
the injured party. 

When he sold his coal mines to Ken Danagger, who owned the largest coal 
company in Pennsylvania, Rearden wondered why he felt as if it were almost 
painless. He felt no hatred. Ken Danagger was a man in his fifties, with a 
hard, closed face; he had started in life as a miner. 

When Rearden handed to him the deed to his new property, Danagger said 
impassively, "I don't believe I've mentioned that any coal you buy from me, 
you'll get it at cost." 

Rearden glanced at him, astonished. "It's against the law," he said. 

"Who's going to find out what sort of cash I band to you in your own 
living room?" 

"You're talking about a rebate." 

"I am." 

"That's against two dozen laws. They'll sock you worse than me, if they 
catch you at it." 

"Sure. That's your protection— so you won't be left at the mercy of my good 

Rearden smiled; it was a happy smile, but he closed his eyes as under a 
blow. Then he shook his head. "Thanks," he said. "But I'm not one of them. I 
don't expect anybody to work for me at cost." 

"I'm not one of them, either," said Danagger angrily. "Look here, Rearden, 
don't you suppose I know what I'm getting, unearned? The money doesn't pay 
you for it. Not nowadays." 

"You didn't volunteer to bid to buy my property. I asked you to buy it. I 
wish there had been somebody like you in the ore business, to take over my 
mines. There wasn't. If you want to do me a favor, don't offer me rebates. 
Give me a chance to pay you higher prices, higher than anyone else will 
offer, sock me anything you wish, just so I'll be first to get the coal. I'll 
manage my end of it. Only let me have the coal." 

"You'll have it." 

Rearden wondered, for a while, why he heard no word from Wesley Mouch. His 
calls to Washington remained unanswered. Then he received a letter consisting 
of a single sentence which informed him that Mr. Mouch was resigning from his 
employ. Two weeks later, he read in the newspapers that Wesley Mouch had been 
appointed Assistant Coordinator of the Bureau of Economic Planning and 
National Resources. 

Don't dwell on any of it— thought Rearden, through the silence of many 
evenings, fighting the sudden access of that new emotion which he did not 
want to feel— there is an unspeakable evil in the world, you know it, and it's 
no use dwelling on the details of it. You must work a little harder. Just a 
little harder. Don't let it win. 

The beams and girders of the Rearden Metal bridge were coming daily out of 
the rolling mills, and were being shipped to the site of the John Gait Line, 
where the first shapes of green-blue metal, swung into space to span the 
canyon, glittered in the first rays of the spring sun. 

He had no time for pain, no energy for anger. Within a few weeks, it was 
over; the blinding stabs of hatred ceased and did not return. 

He was back in confident self-control on the evening when he telephoned 
Eddie Willers, "Eddie, I'm in New York, at the Wayne-Falkland. Come to have 
breakfast with me tomorrow morning. There's something I'd like to discuss 
with you." 

Eddie Willers went to the appointment with a heavy feeling of guilt. 

He had not recovered from the shock of the Equalization of Opportunity 
Bill; it had left a dull ache within him, like the black-and-blue mark of a 
blow. He disliked the sight of the city: it now looked as if it hid the 
threat of some malicious unknown. He dreaded facing one of the Bill's 
victims: he felt almost as if he, Eddie Willers, shared the responsibility 
for it in some terrible way which he could not define. 

When he saw Rearden, the feeling vanished. There was no hint suggesting a 
victim, in Rearden 's bearing. Beyond the windows of the hotel room, the 
spring sunlight of early morning sparkled on the windows of the city, the sky 
was a very pale blue that seemed young, the offices were still closed, and 
the city did not look as if it held malice, but as if it were joyously, 
hopefully ready to swing into action— in the same manner as Rearden. He looked 
refreshed by an untroubled sleep, he wore a dressing gown, he seemed 
impatient of the necessity to dress, unwilling to delay the exciting game of 
his business duties. 

"Good morning, Eddie. Sorry if I got you out so early. It's the only time 
I had. Have to go back to Philadelphia right after breakfast. We can talk 
while we're eating." 

The dressing gown he wore was of dark blue flannel, with the white 
initials "H R" on the breast pocket. He looked young, relaxed, at home in 
this room and in the world. 

Eddie watched a waiter wheel the breakfast table into the room with a 
swift efficiency that made him feel braced. He found himself enjoying the 
stiff freshness of the white tablecloth and the sunlight sparkling on the 
silver, on the two bowls of crushed ice holding glasses of orange juice; he 
had not known that such things could give him an invigorating pleasure. 

"I didn't want to phone Dagny long distance about this particular matter," 
said Rearden. "She has enough to do. We can settle it in a few minutes, you 
and I." 

"If I have the authority to do it," 

Rearden smiled. "You have." He leaned forward across the table. 
"Eddie, what's the financial state of Taggart Transcontinental at the 
moment? Desperate?" 

"Worse than that, Mr. Rearden." 
"Are you able to meet pay rolls?" 

"Not quite. We've kept it out of the newspapers, but I think everybody 
knows it. We're in arrears all over the system and Jim is running out of 
excuses . " 

"Do you know that your first payment for the Rearden Metal rail is due 
next week?" 

"Yes, I know it." 

"Well, let's agree on a moratorium. I'm going to give you an extension— you 
won't have to pay me anything until six months after the opening of the John 
Gait Line." 

Eddie Willers put down his cup of coffee with a sharp thud. He could not 
say a word. 

Rearden chuckled. "What's the matter? You do have the authority to accept, 
don't you?" 

"Mr. Rearden ... I don't know . . . what to say to you." 

"Why, just 'okay' is all that's necessary," 

"Okay, Mr. Rearden." Eddie's voice was barely audible. 

"I'll draw up the papers and send them to you. You can tell Jim about it 
and have him sign them." 
"Yes, Mr. Rearden." 

"I don't like to deal with Jim. He'd waste two hours trying to make 
himself believe that he's made me believe that he's doing me a favor by 
accepting . " 

Eddie sat without moving, looking down at his plate. 
"What's the matter?" 

"Mr. Rearden, I'd like ... to say thank you . . . but there isn't any 
form of it big enough to—" 

"Look, Eddie. You've got the makings of a good businessman, so you'd 
better get a few things straight. There aren't any thank-you's in situations 
of this kind. I'm not doing it for Taggart Transcontinental. 

It's a simple, practical, selfish matter on my part. Why should I collect 
my money from you now, when it might prove to be the death blow to your 
company? If your company were no good, I'd collect, and fast. I don't engage 
in charity and I don't gamble on incompetents. But you're still the best 
railroad in the country. When the John Gait Line is completed, you'll be the 
soundest one financially. So I have good reason to wait. Besides, you're in 
trouble on account of my rail. I intend to see you win," 

"I still owe you thanks, Mr. Rearden . . . for something much greater than 
charity . " 

"No. Don't you see? I have just received a great deal of money . . . 
which I didn't want. I can't invest it. It's of no use to me whatever. . . 

So, in a way, it pleases me that I can turn that money against the same 
people in the same battle. They made it possible for me to give you an 
extension to help you fight them." 

He saw Eddie wincing, as if he had hit a wound. "That's what's horrible 
about it!" 


"What they've done to you— and what you're doing in return. I mean—" He 
stopped. "Forgive me, Mr. Rearden. I know this is no way to talk business." 

Rearden smiled. "Thanks, Eddie. I know what you mean. But forget it. To 
hell with them." 

"Yes. Only . . .Mr. Rearden, may I say something to you? I know it's 
completely improper and I'm not speaking as a vice-president." 
"Go ahead." 

"I don't have to tell you what your offer means to Dagny, to me, to every 
decent person on Taggart Transcontinental. You know it. And you know you can 
count on us. But . . . but I think it's horrible that Jim Taggart should 
benefit, too— that you should be the one to save him and people like him, 
after they—" 

Rearden laughed. "Eddie, what do we care about people like him? 

We're driving an express, and they're riding on the roof, making a lot of 
noise about being leaders. Why should we care? We have enough power to carry 
them along— haven ' t we?" 

"It won ' t stand. " 

The summer sun made blotches of fire on the windows of the city, and 
glittering sparks in the dust of the streets. Columns of heat shimmered 
through the air, rising from the roofs to the white page of the calendar. The 
calendar's motor ran on, marking off the last days of June. 

"It won't stand," people said. "When they run the first train on the John 
Gait Line, the rail will split. They'll never get to the bridge. If they do, 
the bridge will collapse under the engine." 

From the slopes of Colorado, freight trains rolled down the track of the 
Phoenix-Durango, north to Wyoming and the main line of Taggart 
Transcontinental, south to New Mexico and the main line of the Atlantic 
Southern. Strings of tank cars went radiating in all directions from the 
Wyatt oil fields to industries in distant states. No one spoke about them. To 
the knowledge of the public, the tank trains moved as silently as rays and, 
as rays, they were noticed only when they became the light of electric lamps, 
the heat of furnaces, the movement of motors; but as such, they were not 
noticed, they were taken for granted. 

The Phoenix-Durango Railroad was to end operations on July 25. 

"Hank Rearden is a greedy monster," people said. "Look at the fortune he's 
made. Has he ever given anything in return? Has he ever shown any sign of 
social conscience? Money, that's all he's after. He'll do anything for money. 
What does he care if people lose their lives when his bridge collapses?" 

"The Taggarts have been a band of vultures for generations, " people said. 
"It's in their blood. Just remember that the founder of that family was Nat 
Taggart, the most notoriously anti-social scoundrel that ever lived, who bled 
the country white to squeeze a fortune for himself. You can be sure that a 
Taggart won't hesitate to risk people's lives in order to make a profit. They 
bought inferior rail, because it's cheaper than steel— what do they care about 
catastrophes and mangled human bodies, after they've collected the fares?" 

People said it because other people said it. They did not know why it was 
being said and heard everywhere. They did not give or ask for reasons. 
"Reason," Dr. Pritchett had told them, "is the most naive of all 
superstitions . " 

"The source of public opinion?" said Claude Slagenhop in a radio speech. 
'There is no source of public opinion. It is spontaneously general. It is a 
reflex of the collective instinct of the collective mind." 

Orren Boyle gave an interview to Globe, the news magazine with the largest 
circulation. The interview was devoted to the subject of the grave social 
responsibility of metallurgists, stressing the fact that metal performed so 
many crucial tasks where human lives depended on its quality. "One should 
not, it seems to me, use human beings as guinea pigs in the launching of a 
new product," he said. He mentioned no names. 

"Why, no, I don't say that that bridge will collapse," said the chief 
metallurgist of Associated Steel, on a television program. "I don't say it at 
all. I just say that if I had any children, I wouldn't let them ride on the 
first train that's going to cross that bridge. But it's only a personal 
preference, nothing more, just because I'm overly fond of children." 

"I don't claim that the Rearden-Taggart contraption will collapse," 

wrote Bertram Scudder in The Future. "Maybe it will and maybe it won't. 
That's not the important issue. The important issue is: what protection does 
society have against the arrogance, selfishness and greed of two unbridled 
individualists, whose records are conspicuously devoid of any public-spirited 
actions? These two, apparently, are willing to stake the lives of their 
fellow men on their own conceited notions about their powers of judgment, 
against the overwhelming majority opinion of recognized experts. Should 
society permit it? If that thing does collapse, won't it be too late to take 
precautionary measures? Won't it be like locking the barn after the horse has 

escaped? It has always been the belief of this column that certain kinds of 
horses should be kept bridled and locked, on general social principles." 

A group that called itself "Committee of Disinterested Citizens" collected 
signatures on a petition demanding a year's study of the John Gait Line by 
government experts before the first train were allowed to run. The petition 
stated that its signers had no motive other than "a sense of civic duty." The 
first signatures were those of Balph Eubank and Mort Liddy. The petition was 
given a great deal of space and comment in all the newspapers. The 
consideration it received was respectful, because it came from people who 
were disinterested. 

No space was given by the newspapers to the progress of the construction 
of the John Gait Line. No reporter was sent to look at the scene. The general 
policy of the press had been stated by a famous editor five years ago. "There 
are no objective facts," he had said. "Every report on facts is only 
somebody's opinion. It is, therefore, useless to write about facts." 

A few businessmen thought that one should think about the possibility that 
there might be commercial value in Rearden Metal. They undertook a survey of 
the question. They did not hire metallurgists to examine samples, nor 
engineers to visit the site of construction. They took a public poll. Ten 
thousand people, guaranteed to represent every existing kin ! 

of brain, were asked the question: "Would you ride on the John Gait Line?" 
The answer, overwhelmingly., was: "No, sir-reel" 

No voices were heard in public in defense of Rearden Metal. And nobody 
attached significance to the fact that the stock of Taggart Transcontinental 
was rising on the market, very slowly, almost furtively. 

There were men who watched and played safe. Mr. Mowen bought Taggart stock 
in the name of his sister. Ben Nealy bought it in the name of a cousin. Paul 
Larkin bought it under an alias. "I don't believe in raising controversial 
issues," said one of these men. 

"Oh yes, of course, the construction is moving on schedule," said James 
Taggart, shrugging, to his Board of Directors. "Oh yes, you may feel full 
confidence. My dear sister does not happen to be a human being, but just an 
internal combustion engine, so one must not wonder at her success." 

When James Taggart heard a rumor that some bridge girders had split and 
crashed, killing three workmen, he leaped to his feet and ran to his 
secretary's office, ordering him to call Colorado. He waited, pressed against 
the secretary's desk, as if seeking protection; his eyes had the unfocused 
look of panic. Yet his mouth moved suddenly into almost a smile and he said, 
"I'd give anything to see Henry Rearden' s face right now." When he heard that 
the rumor was false, he said, "Thank God!" 

But his voice had a note of disappointment. 

"Oh well!" said Philip Rearden to his friends, hearing the same rumor. 
"Maybe he can fail, too, once in a while. Maybe my great brother isn't as 
great as he thinks . " 

"Darling," said Lillian Rearden to her husband, "I fought for you 
yesterday, at a tea where the women were saying that Dagny Taggart is your 
mistress. . . . Oh, for heaven's sake, don't look at me like that! 

I know it's preposterous and I gave them hell for it. It's just that those 
silly bitches can't imagine any other reason why a woman would take such a 
stand against everybody for the sake of your Metal. Of course, I know better 
than that. I know that the Taggart woman is perfectly sexless and doesn't 
give a damn about you— and, darling, I know that if you ever had the courage 
for anything of the sort, which you haven't, you wouldn't go for an adding 
machine in tailored suits, you'd go for some blond, feminine chorus girl who— 
oh, but Henry, I'm only joking! 

—don't look at me like that!" 

"Dagny, " James Taggart said miserably, "what's going to happen to us? 
Taggart Transcontinental has become so unpopular!" 

Dagny laughed, in enjoyment of the moment, any moment, as if the 
undercurrent of enjoyment was constant within her and little was needed to 
tap it. She laughed easily, her mouth relaxed and open. Her teeth were very 
white against her sun-scorched face. Her eyes had the look, acquired in open 
country, of being set for great distances. On her last few visits to New 
York, he had noticed that she looked at him as if she did not see him. 

"What are we going to do? The public is so overwhelmingly against us!" 

"Jim, do you remember the story they tell about Nat Taggart? He said that 
he envied only one of his competitors, the one who said The public be 
damned! ' He wished he had said it." 

In the summer days and in the heavy stillness of the evenings of the city, 
there were moments when a lonely man or woman— on a park bench, on a street 
corner, at an open window— would see in a newspaper a brief mention of the 
progress of the John Gait Line, and would look at the city with a sudden stab 
of hope. They were the very young, who felt that it was the kind of event 
they longed to see happening in the world— or the very old, who had seen a 
world in which such events did happen. They did not care about railroads, 
they knew nothing about business, they knew only that someone was fighting 
against great odds and winning. They did not admire the fighters' purpose, 
they believed the voices of public opinion— and yet, when they read that the 
Line was growing, they felt a moment's sparkle and wondered why it made their 
own problems seem easier. 

Silently, unknown to everyone except to the freight yard of Taggart 
Transcontinental in Cheyenne and the office of the John Gait Line in the dark 
alley, freight was rolling in and orders for cars were piling up— 

for the first train to run on the John Gait Line. Dagny Taggart had 
announced that the first train would be, not a passenger express loaded with 
celebrities and politicians, as was the custom, but a freight special. 

The freight came from farms, from lumber yards, from mines all over the 
country, from distant places whose last means of survival were the new 
factories of Colorado. No one wrote about these shippers, because they were 
men who were not disinterested. 

The Phoenix-Durango Railroad was to close on July 25. The first train of 
the John Gait Line was to run on July 22. 

"Well, it's like this, Miss Taggart," said the delegate of the Union of 
Locomotive Engineers. "I don't think we're going to allow you to run that 
train . " 

Dagny sat at her battered desk, against the blotched wall of her office. 
She said, without moving, "Get out of here." 

It was a sentence the man had never heard in the polished offices of 
railroad executives. He looked bewildered. "I came to tell you—" 
"If you have anything to say to me, start over again." 

"Don't tell me what you're going to allow me to do." 

"Well, I meant we're not going to allow our men to run your train." 

"That's different." 

"Well, that's what we've decided." 

"Who's decided it?" 

"The committee. What you're doing is a violation of human rights. 

You can't force men to go out to get killed— when that bridge collapses — 
just to make money for you." 

She reached for a sheet of blank paper and handed it to him. "Put it down 
in writing," she said, "and we'll sign a contract to that effect." 

"What contract?" 

"That no member of your union will ever be employed to run an engine on 
the John Gait Line." 

"Why . . . wait a minute ... I haven't said—" 
"You don't want to sign such a contract?" 
-No, I-" 

"Why not, since you know that the bridge is going to collapse?" 
"I only want—" 

"I know what you want. You want a stranglehold on your men by means of the 
jobs which I give them— and on me, by means of your men. You want me to 
provide the jobs, and you want to make it impossible for me to have any jobs 
to provide. Now I'll give you a choice. 

That train is going to be run. You have no choice about that. But you can 
choose whether it's going to be run by one of your men or not. If you choose 
not to let them, the train will still run, if I have to drive the engine 
myself. Then, if the bridge collapses, there won't be any railroad left in 
existence, anyway. But if it doesn't collapse, no member of your union will 
ever get a job on the John Gait Line. If you think that I need your men more 
than they need me, choose accordingly. If you know that I can run an engine, 
but they can't build a railroad, choose according to that. Now are you going 
to forbid your men to run that train?" 

"I didn't say we'd forbid it. I haven't said anything about forbidding. 

But . . . but you can't force men to risk their lives on something 
nobody's ever tried before." 

"I'm not going to force anyone to take that run." 

"What are you going to do?" 

"I'm going to ask for a volunteer." 

"And if none of them volunteers?" 

"Then it will be my problem, not yours." 

"Well, let me tell you that I'm going to advise them to refuse." 

"Go ahead. Advise them anything you wish. Tell them whatever, you like. 
But leave the choice to them. Don't try to forbid it." 

The notice that appeared in every roundhouse of the Taggart system was 
signed "Edwin Willers, Vice-President in Charge of Operation." It asked 
engineers, who were willing to drive the first train on the John Gait Line, 
so to inform the office of Mr. Willers., not later than eleven A.M. of July 

It was a quarter of eleven, on the morning of the fifteenth, when the 
telephone rang in her office. It was Eddie, calling from high up in the 
Taggart Building outside her window. "Dagny, I think you'd better come over." 
His voice sounded queer. 

She hurried across the street, then down the marble-floored halls, to the 
door that still carried the name "Dagny Taggart" on its glass panel. 

She pulled the door open. 

The anteroom of the office was full. Men stood jammed among the desks, 
against the walls. As she entered, they took their hats off in sudden 
silence. She saw the graying heads, the muscular shoulders, she saw the 
smiling faces of her staff at their desks and the face of Eddie Willers at 
the end of the room. Everybody knew that nothing had to be said. 

Eddie stood by the open door of her office. The crowd parted to let her 
approach him. He moved his hand, pointing at the room, then at a pile of 
letters and telegrams. 

"Dagny, every one of them," he said. "Every engineer on Taggart 
Transcontinental. Those who could, came here, some from as far as the Chicago 
Division." He pointed at the mail. "There's the rest of them. 

To be exact, there's only three I haven't heard from: one's on a vacation 
in the north woods, one's in a hospital, and one's in jail for reckless 
driving— of his automobile." 

She looked at the men. She saw the suppressed grins on the solemn faces. 
She inclined her head, in acknowledgment. She stood for a moment, head bowed, 
as if she were accepting a verdict, knowing that the verdict applied to her, 
to every man in the room and to the world beyond the walls of the building. 

"Thank you," she said. 

Most of the men had seen her many times. Looking at her, as she raised her 
head, many of them thought— in astonishment and for the first time— that the 
face of their Operating Vice-President was the face of a woman and that it 
was beautiful. 

Someone in the back of the crowd cried suddenly, cheerfully, 'To hell with 
Jim Taggart ! " 

An explosion answered him. The men laughed, they cheered, they broke into 
applause. The response was out of all proportion to the sentence. But the 
sentence had given them the excuse they needed. They seemed to be applauding 
the speaker, in insolent defiance of authority. 

But everyone in the room knew who it was that they were cheering. 

She raised her hand. "We're too early," she said, laughing. "Wait till a 
week from today. That's when we ought to celebrate. And believe me, we will!" 

They drew lots for the run. She picked a folded slip of paper from among a 
pile containing all their names. The winner was not in the room, but he was 
one of the best men on the system, Pat Logan, engineer of the Taggart Comet 
on the Nebraska Division. 

"Wire Pat and tell him he's been demoted to a freight," she said to Eddie. 
She added casually, as if it were a last-moment decision, but it fooled no 
one, "Oh yes, tell him that I'm going to ride with him in the cab of the 
engine on that run." 

An old engineer beside her grinned and said, "I thought you would, Miss 
Taggart . " 

Rearden was in New York on the day when Dagny telephoned him from her 
office. "Hank, I'm going to have a press conference tomorrow." 
He laughed aloud. "No!" 

"Yes." Her voice sounded earnest, but, dangerously, a bit too earnest. 
"The newspapers have suddenly discovered me and are asking questions. 
I'm going to answer them." 
"Have a good time." 

"I will. Are you going to be in town tomorrow? I'd like to have you in on 
it. " 

"Okay. I wouldn't want to miss it." 

The reporters who came to the press conference in the office of the John 
Gait Line were young men who had been trained to think that their job 
consisted of concealing from the world the nature of its events. It was their 
daily duty to serve as audience for some public- figure who made utterances 
about the public good, in phrases carefully chosen to convey no meaning. It 
was their daily job to sling words together in any combination they pleased, 
so long as the words did not fall into a sequence saying something specific. 
They could not understand the interview now being given to them. 

Dagny Taggart sat behind her desk in an office that looked like a slum 
basement. She wore a dark blue suit with a white blouse, beautifully 
tailored, suggesting an air of formal, almost military elegance. She sat 
straight, and her manner was severely dignified, just a shade too dignified. 

Rearden sat in a corner of the room, sprawled across a broken armchair, 
his long legs thrown over one of its arms, his body leaning against the 
other. His manner was pleasantly informal, just a bit too informal. 

In the clear, monotonous voice of a military report, consulting no papers, 
looking straight at the men, Dagny recited the technological facts about the 
John Gait Line, giving exact figures on the nature of the rail, the capacity 
of the bridge, the method of construction, the costs. Then, in the dry tone 

of a banker, she explained the financial prospects of the Line and named the 
large profits she expected to make. 'That is all," 
she said. 

"All?" said one of the reporters. "Aren't you going to give us a message 
for the public?" 

"That was my message." 

"But hell— I mean, aren't you going to defend yourself?" 
"Against what?" 

"Don't you want to tell us something to justify your Line?" 
"I have." 

A man with a mouth shaped as a permanent sneer asked, "Well, what I want 
to know, as Bertram Scudder stated, is what protection do we have against 
your Line being no good?" 

"Don't ride on it." 

Another asked, "Aren't you going to tell us your motive for building that 

"I have told you: the profit which I expect to make." 

"Oh, Miss Taggart, don't say that!" cried a young boy. He was new, he was 
still honest about his job, and he felt that he liked Dagny Taggart, without 
knowing why. "That's the wrong thing to say. That's what they're all saying 
about you." 

"Are they?" 

"I'm sure you didn't mean it the way it sounds and . . . and I'm sure 
you'll want to clarify it." 

"Why, yes, if you wish me to. The average profit of railroads has been two 
per cent of the capital invested. An industry that does so much and keeps so 
little, should consider itself immoral. As I have explained, the cost of the 
John Gait Line in relation to the traffic which it will carry makes me expect 
a profit of not less than fifteen per cent on our investment. Of course, any 
industrial profit above four per cent is considered usury nowadays. I shall, 
nevertheless, do my best to make the John Gait Line earn a profit of twenty 
per cent for me, if possible. That was my motive for building the Line. Have 
I made myself clear now?" 

The boy was looking at her helplessly. "You don't mean, to earn a profit 
for you, Miss Taggart? You mean, for the small stockholders, of course?" he 
prompted hopefully. 

"Why, no. I happen to be one of the largest stockholders of Taggart 
Transcontinental, so my share of the profits will be one of the largest, Now, 
Mr. Rearden is in a much more fortunate position, because he has no 
stockholders to share with— or would you rather make your own statement, Mr. 
Rearden? " 

"Yes, gladly," said Rearden. "Inasmuch as the formula of Rearden Metal is 
my own personal secret, and in view of the fact that the Metal costs much 
less to produce than you boys can imagine, I expect to skin the public to the 
tune of a profit of twenty-five per cent in the next few years." 

"What do you mean, skin the public, Mr. Rearden?" asked the boy. 

"If it's true, as I've read in your ads, that your Metal will last three 
times longer than any other and at half the price, wouldn't the public be 
getting a bargain?" 

"Oh, have you noticed that?" said Rearden. 

"Do the two of you realize you're talking for publication?" asked the man 
with the sneer. 

"But, Mr. Hopkins," said Dagny, in polite astonishment, "is there any 
reason why we would talk to you, if it weren't for publication?" 
"Do you want us to quote all the things you said?" 

"I hope I may trust you to be sure and quote them. Would you oblige me by 
taking this down verbatim?" She paused to see their pencils ready, then 

dictated: "Miss Taggart says— quote— I expect to make a pile of money on the 
John Gait Line. I will have earned it. Close quote. Thank you so much." 

"Any questions, gentlemen?" asked Rearden. 

There were no questions. 

"Now I must tell you about the opening of the John Gait Line," said Dagny. 
"The first train will depart from the station of Taggart Transcontinental in 
Cheyenne, Wyoming, at four P.M. on July twenty-second. 

It will be a freight special, consisting of eighty cars. It will be driven 
by an eight-thousand-horsepower, four-unit Diesel locomotive— which I'm 
leasing from Taggart Transcontinental for the occasion. It will run non-stop 
to Wyatt Junction, Colorado, traveling at an average speed of one hundred 
miles per hour. I beg your pardon?" she asked, hearing the long, low sound of 
a whistle. 

"What did you say, Miss Taggart?" 

"I said, one hundred miles per hour— grades, curves and all." 

"But shouldn't you cut the speed below normal rather than . . . Miss 
Taggart, don't you have any consideration whatever for public opinion?" 

"But I do . If it weren't for public opinion, an average speed of sixty- 
five miles per hour would have been quite sufficient." 

"Who's going to run that train?" 

"I had quite a bit of trouble about that. All the Taggart engineers 
volunteered to do it. So did the firemen, the brakemen and the conductors. We 
had to draw lots for every job on the train's crew. The engineer will be Pat 
Logan, of the Taggart Comet, the fireman— Ray McKim. 

I shall ride in the cab of the engine with them." 

"Not really!" 

"Please do attend the opening. It's on July twenty-second. The press is 
most eagerly invited. Contrary to my usual policy, I have become a publicity 
hound. Really. I should like to have spotlights, radio microphones and 
television cameras. I suggest that you plant a few cameras around the bridge. 
The collapse of the bridge would give you some interesting shots." 

"Miss Taggart," asked Rearden, "why didn't you mention that I'm going to 
ride in that engine, too?" 

She looked at him across the room, and for a moment they were alone, 
holding each other's glance. 

"Yes, of course, Mr. Rearden," she answered. 

She did not see him again until they looked at each other across the 
platform of the Taggart station in Cheyenne, on July 22. 

She did not look for anyone when she stepped out on the platform: she felt 
as if her senses had merged, so that she could not distinguish the sky, the 
sun or the sounds of an enormous crowd, but perceived only a sensation of 
shock and light. 

Yet he was the first person she saw, and she could not tell for how long a 
time he was also the only one. He stood by the engine of the John Gait train, 
talking to somebody outside the field of her consciousness. 

He was dressed in gray slacks and shirt, he looked like an expert 
mechanic, but he was stared at by the faces around him, because he was Hank 
Rearden of Rearden Steel. High above him, she saw the letters TT on the 
silver front of the engine. The lines of the engine slanted back, aimed at 
space . 

There was distance and a crowd between them, but his eyes moved to her the 
moment she came out. They looked at each other and she knew that he felt as 
she did. This was not to be a solemn venture upon which their future 
depended, but simply their day of enjoyment. Their work was done. For the 
moment, there was no future. They had earned the present. 

Only if one feels immensely important, she had told him, can one feel 
truly light. Whatever the train's run would mean to others, for the two of 

them their own persons were this day's sole meaning. Whatever it was that 
others sought in life, their right to what they now felt was all the two of 
them wished to find. It was as if, across the platform, they said it to each 
other . 

Then she turned away from him. 

She noticed that she, too, was being stared at, that there were people 
around her, that she was laughing and answering questions. 

She had not expected such a large crowd. They filled the platform, the 
tracks, the square beyond the station; they were on the roofs of the boxcars 
on the sidings, at the windows of every house in sight. Something had drawn 
them here, something in the air which, at the last moment, had made James 
Taggart want to attend the opening of the John Gait Line. She had forbidden 
it. "If you come, Jim," she had said, "I'll have you thrown out of your own 
Taggart station. This is one event you're not going to see." Then she had 
chosen Eddie Willers to represent Taggart Transcontinental at the opening. 

She looked at the crowd and she felt, simultaneously, astonishment that 
they should stare at her, when this event was so personally her own that no 
communication about it was possible, and a sense of fitness that they should 
be here, that they should want to see it, because the sight of an achievement 
was the greatest gift a human being could offer to others. 

She felt no anger toward anyone on earth. The things she had endured had 
now receded into some outer fog, like pain that still exists, but has no 
power to hurt. Those things could not stand in the face of this moment's 
reality, the meaning of this day was as brilliantly, violently clear as the 
splashes of sun on the silver of the engine, all men had to perceive it now, 
no one could doubt it and she had no one to hate. 

Eddie Willers was watching her. He stood on the platform, surrounded by 
Taggart executives, division heads, civic leaders, and the various local 
officials who had been out argued, bribed or threatened, to obtain permits to 
run a train through town zones at a hundred miles an hour. For once, for this 
day and event, his title of Vice-president was real to him and he carried it 
well. But while he spoke to those around him, his eyes kept following Dagny 
through the crowd. She was dressed in blue slacks and shirt, she was 
unconscious of official duties, she had left them to him, the train was now 
her sole concern, as if she were only a member of its crew. 

She saw him, she approached, and she shook his hand; her smile was like a 
summation of all the things they did not have to say. "Well, Eddie, you're 
Taggart Transcontinental now." 

"Yes," he said solemnly, his voice low. 

There were reporters asking questions, and they dragged her away from him. 
They were asking him questions, too. "Mr. Willers, what is the policy of 
Taggart Transcontinental in regard to this line?" "So Taggart 
Transcontinental is just a disinterested observer, is it, Mr. Willers?" 

He answered as best he could. He was looking at the sun on a Diesel 
engine. But what he was seeing was the sun in a clearing of the woods and a 
twelve-year-old girl telling him that he would help her run the railroad some 

He watched from a distance while the train's crew was lined up in front of 
the engine, to face a firing squad of cameras. Dagny and Rearden were 
smiling, as if posing for snapshots of a summer vacation. Pat Logan, the 
engineer, a short, sinewy man with graying hair and a contemptuously 
inscrutable face, posed in a manner of amused indifference. 

Ray McKim, the fireman, a husky young giant, grinned with an air of 
embarrassment and superiority together. The rest of the crew looked as if 
they were about to wink at the cameras. A photographer said, laughing, "Can't 
you people look doomed, please? I know that's what the editor wants." 

Dagny and Rearden were answering questions for the press. There was no 
mockery in their answers now, no bitterness. They were enjoying it. They 
spoke as if the questions were asked in good faith. Irresistibly, at some 
point which no one noticed, this became true, "What do you expect to happen 
on this run?" a reporter asked one of the brakemen. "Do you think you'll get 

"I think we'll get there," said the brakeman, "and so do you, brother." 

"Mr. Logan, do you have any children? Did you take out any extra 
insurance? I'm just thinking of the bridge, you know." 

"Don't cross that bridge till I come to it," Pat Logan answered 

"Mr. Rearden, how do you know that your rail will hold?" 

'The man who taught people to make a printing press," said Rearden, "how 
did he know it?" 

"Tell me, Miss Taggart, what's going to support a seven-thousand-ton train 
on a three-thousand-ton bridge?" 
"My judgment," she answered. 

The men of the press, who despised their own profession, did not know why 
they were enjoying it today. One of them, a young man with years of notorious 
success behind him and a cynical look of twice his age, said suddenly, "I 
know what I'd like to be: I wish I could be a man who covers news!" 

The hands of the clock on the station building stood at 3:45. The crew 
started off toward the caboose at the distant end of the train. The movement 
and noise of the crowd were subsiding. Without conscious intention, people 
were beginning to stand still. 

The dispatcher had received word from every local operator along the line 
of rail that wound through the mountains to the Wyatt oil fields three 
hundred miles away. He came out of the station building and, looking at 
Dagny, gave the signal for clear track ahead. Standing by the engine, Dagny 
raised her hand, repeating his gesture in sign of an order received and 

The long line of boxcars stretched off into the distance, in spaced, 
rectangular links, like a spinal cord. When the conductor's arm swept through 
the air, far at the end, she moved her arm in answering signal. 

Rearden, Logan and McKim stood silently, as if at attention, letting her 
be first to get aboard. As she started up the rungs on the side of the 
engine, a reporter thought of a question he had not asked. 

"Miss Taggart," he called after her, "who is John Gait?" 

She turned, hanging onto a metal bar with one hand, suspended for an 
instant above the heads of the crowd. 

"We are!" she answered. 

Logan followed her into the cab, then McKim; Rearden went last, then the 
door of the engine was shut, with the tight finality of sealed metal. 

The lights, hanging on a signal bridge against the sky, were green. 

There were green lights between the tracks, low over the ground, dropping 
off into the distance where the rails turned and a green light stood at the 
curve, against leaves of a summer green that looked as if they, too, were 
lights . 

Two men held a white silk ribbon stretched across the track in front of 
the engine. They were the superintendent of the Colorado Division and Nealy's 
chief engineer, who had remained on the job. Eddie Willers was to cut the 
ribbon they held and thus to open the new line. 

The photographers posed him carefully, scissors in hand, his back to the 
engine. He would repeat the ceremony two or three times, they explained, to 
give them a choice of shots; they had a fresh bolt of ribbon ready. He was 
about to comply, then stopped. "No, " he said suddenly. 

"It's not going to be a phony." 

In a voice of quiet authority, the voice of a vice-president, he ordered, 
pointing at the cameras, "Stand back— way back. Take one shot when I cut it, 
then get out of the way, fast." 

They obeyed, moving hastily farther down the track. There was only one 
minute left. Eddie turned his back to the cameras and stood between the 
rails, facing the engine. He held the scissors ready over the white ribbon. 
He took his hat off and tossed it aside. He was looking up at the engine. A 
faint wind stirred his blond hair. The engine was a great silver shield 
bearing the emblem of Nat Taggart. 

Eddie Willers raised his hand as the hand of the station clock reached the 
instant of four. 

"Open her up, Pat!" he called. 

In the moment when the engine started forward, he cut the white ribbon and 
leaped out of the way. 

From the side track, he saw the window of the cab go by and Dagny waving 
to him in an answering salute. Then the engine was gone, and he stood looking 
across at the crowded platform that kept appearing and vanishing as the 
freight cars clicked past him. 

The green-blue rails ran to meet them, like two jets shot out of a single 
point beyond the curve of the earth. The crossties melted, as they 
approached, into a smooth stream rolling down under the wheels. A blurred 
streak clung to the side of the engine, low over the ground. Trees and 
telegraph poles sprang into sight abruptly and went by as if jerked back. The 
green plains stretched past, in a leisurely flow. At the edge of the sky, a 
long wave of mountains reversed the movement and seemed to follow the train. 

She felt no wheels under the floor. The motion was a smooth flight on a 
sustained impulse, as if the engine hung above the rails, riding a current. 
She felt no speed. It seemed strange that the green lights of the signals 
kept coming at them and past, every few seconds. She knew that the signal 
lights were spaced two miles apart. 

The needle on the speedometer in front of Pat Logan stood at one hundred. 

She sat in the fireman's chair and glanced across at Logan once in a 
while. He sat slumped forward a little, relaxed, one hand resting lightly on 
the throttle as if by chance; but his eyes were fixed on the track ahead. He 
had the ease of an expert, so confident that it seemed casual, but it was the 
ease of a tremendous concentration, the concentration on one's task that has 
the ruthlessness of an absolute. Ray McKim sat on a bench behind them. 
Rearden stood in the middle of the cab. 

He stood, hands in pockets, feet apart, braced against the motion, looking 
ahead. There was nothing he could now care to see by the side of the track: 
he was looking at the rail. 

Ownership— she thought, glancing back at him— weren't there those who knew 
nothing of its nature and doubted its reality? No, it was not made of papers, 
seals, grants and permissions. There it was— in his eyes. 

The sound filling the cab seemed part of the space they were crossing. It 
held the low drone of the motors— the sharper clicking of the many parts that 
rang in varied cries of metal— and the high, thin chimes of trembling glass 
panes . 

Things streaked past— a water tank, a tree, a shanty, a grain silo. 

They had a windshield-wiper motion: they were rising, describing a curve 
and dropping back. The telegraph wires ran a race with the train, rising and 
falling from pole to pole, in an even rhythm, like the cardiograph record of 
a steady heartbeat written across the sky. 

She looked ahead, at the haze that melted rail and distance, a haze that 
could rip apart at any moment to some shape of disaster. She wondered why she 
felt safer than she had ever felt in a car behind the engine, safer here, 
where it seemed as if, should an obstacle rise, her breast and the glass 

shield would be first to smash against it. She smiled, grasping the answer: 
it was the security of being first, with full sight and full knowledge of 
one's course— not the blind sense of being pulled into the unknown by some 
unknown power ahead. It was the greatest sensation of existence: not to 
trust, but to know. 

The glass sheets of the cab's windows made the spread of the fields seem 
vaster: the earth looked as open to movement as it was to sight. 

Yet nothing was distant and nothing was out of reach. She had barely 
grasped the sparkle of a lake ahead— and in the next instant she was beside 
it, then past. 

It was a strange foreshortening between sight and touch, she thought, 
between wish and fulfillment, between— the words clicked sharply in her mind 
after a startled stop— between spirit and body. First, the vision— then the 
physical shape to express it. First, the thought— then the purposeful motion 
down the straight line of a single track to a chosen goal. Could one have any 
meaning without the other? Wasn't it evil to wish without moving— or to move 
without aim? Whose malevolence was it that crept through the world, 
struggling to break the two apart and set them against each other? 

She shook her head. She did not want to think or to wonder why the world 
behind her was as it was. She did not care. She was flying away from it, at 
the rate of a hundred miles an hour. She leaned to the open window by her 
side, and felt the wind of the speed blowing her hair off her forehead. She 
lay back, conscious of nothing but the pleasure it gave her. 

Yet her mind kept racing. Broken bits of thought flew past her attention, 
like the telegraph poles by the track. Physical pleasure?— she thought. This 
is a train made of steel . . . running on rails of Rearden Metal . . . moved 
by the energy of burning oil and electric generators . . . it's a physical 
sensation of physical movement through space . . . but is that the cause and 
the meaning of what I now feel? 

. . . Do they call it a low, animal joy— this feeling that I would not care 
if the rail did break to bits under us now— it won ' t— but I wouldn't care, 
because I have experienced this? A low, physical, material, degrading 
pleasure of the body? 

She smiled, her eyes closed, the wind streaming through her hair. 

She opened her eyes and saw that Rearden stood looking down at her. It was 
the same glance with which he had looked at the rail. She felt her power of 
volition knocked out by some single, dull blow that made her unable to move. 
She held his eyes, lying back in her chair, the wind pressing the thin cloth 
of her shirt to her body. 

He looked away, and she turned again to the sight of the earth tearing 
open before them. 

She did not want to think, but the sound of thought went on, like the 
drone of the motors under the sounds of the engine. She looked at the cab 
around her. The fine steel mesh of the ceiling, she thought, and the row of 
rivets in the corner, holding sheets of steel sealed together— who made them? 
The brute force of men's muscles? Who made it possible for four dials and 
three levers in front of Pat Logan to hold the incredible power of the 
sixteen motors behind them and deliver it to the effortless control of one 
man ' s hand? 

These things and the capacity from which they came— was this the pursuit 
men regarded as evil? Was this what they called an ignoble concern with the 
physical world? Was this the state of being enslaved by matter? Was this the 
surrender of man's spirit to his body? 

She shook her head, as if she wished she could toss the subject out of the 
window and let it get shattered somewhere along the track. She looked at the 
sun on the summer fields. She did not have to think, because these questions 
were only details of a truth she knew and had always known. Let them go past 

like the telegraph poles. The thing she knew was like the wires flying above 
in an unbroken line. The words for it, and for this journey, and for her 
feeling, and for the whole of man's earth, were: It's so simple and so right! 

She looked out at the country. She had been aware for some time of the 
human figures that flashed with an odd regularity at the side of the track. 
But they went by so fast that she could not grasp their meaning until, like 
the squares of a movie film, brief flashes blended into a whole and she 
understood it. She had had the track guarded since its completion, but she 
had not hired the human chain she saw strung out along the right-of-way. A 
solitary figure stood at every mile post. Some were young schoolboys, others 
were so old that the silhouettes of their bodies looked bent against the sky. 
All of them were armed, with anything they had found, from costly rifles to 
ancient muskets. All of them wore railroad caps. They were the sons of 
Taggart employees, and old railroad men who had retired after a full lifetime 
of Taggart service. They had come, unsummoned, to guard this train. As the 
engine went past him, every man in his turn stood erect, at attention, and 
raised his gun in a military salute. 

When she grasped it, she burst out laughing, suddenly, with the abruptness 
of a cry. She laughed, shaking, like a child; it sounded like sobs of 
deliverance. Pat Logan nodded to her with a faint smile; he had noted the 
guard of honor long ago. She leaned to the open window, and her arm swept in 
wide curves of triumph, waving to the men by the track. 

On the crest of a distant hill, she saw a crowd of people, their arms 
swinging against the sky. The gray houses of a village were scattered through 
a valley below, as if dropped there once and forgotten; the roof lines 
slanted, sagging, and the years had washed away the color of the walls. 
Perhaps generations had lived there, with nothing to mark the passage of 
their days but the movement of the sun from east to west. 

Now, these men had climbed the hill to see a silver-headed comet cut 
through their plains like the sound of a bugle through a long weight of 
silence . 

As houses began to come more frequently, closer to the track, she saw 
people at the windows, on the porches, on distant roofs. She saw crowds 
blocking the roads at grade crossings. The roads went sweeping past like the 
spokes of a fan, and she could not distinguish human figures, only their arms 
greeting the train like branches waving in the wind of its speed. They stood 
under the swinging red lights of warning signals, under the signs saying; 
"Stop. Look. Listen." 

The station past which they flew, as they went through a town at a hundred 
miles an hour, was a swaying sculpture of people from platform to roof. She 
caught the flicker of waving arms, of hats tossed in the air, of something 
flung against the side of the engine, which was a bunch of flowers. 

As the miles clicked past them, the towns went by, with the stations at 
which they did not stop, with the crowds of people who had come only to see, 
to cheer and to hope. She saw garlands of flowers under the sooted eaves of 
old station buildings, and bunting of red-white-and-blue on the time-eaten 
walls. It was like the pictures she had seen— and envied— in schoolbook 
histories of railroads, from the era when people gathered to greet the first 
run of a train. It was like the age when Nat Taggart moved across the 
country, and the stops along his way were marked by men eager for the sight 
of achievement. That age, she had thought, was gone; generations had passed, 
with no event to greet anywhere, with nothing to see but the cracks 
lengthening year by year on the walls built by Nat Taggart. Yet men came 
again, as they had come in his time, drawn by the same response. 

She glanced at Rearden. He stood against the wall, unaware of the crowds, 
indifferent to admiration. He was watching the performance of track and train 
with an expert's intensity of professional interest; his bearing suggested 

that he would kick aside, as irrelevant, any thought such as 'They like it," 
when the thought ringing in his mind was "It works!" 

His tall figure in the single gray of slacks and shirt looked as if his 
body were stripped for action. The slacks stressed the long lines of his 
legs, the light, firm posture of standing without effort or being ready to 
swing forward at an instant's notice; the short sleeves stressed the gaunt 
strength of his arms; the open shirt bared the tight skin of his chest. 

She turned away, realizing suddenly that she had been glancing back at him 
too often. But this day had no ties to past or future— her thoughts were cut 
off from implications— she saw no further meaning, only the immediate 
intensity of the feeling that she was imprisoned with him, sealed together in 
the same cube of air, the closeness of his presence underscoring her 
awareness of this day, as his rails underscored the flight of the train. 

She turned deliberately and glanced back. He was looking at her. 

He did not turn away, but held her glance, coldly and with full intention. 

She smiled defiantly, not letting herself know the full meaning of her 
smile, knowing only that it was the sharpest blow she could strike at his 
inflexible face. She felt a sudden desire to see him trembling, to tear a cry 
out of him. She turned her head away, slowly, feeling a reckless amusement, 
wondering why she found it difficult to breathe. 

She sat leaning back in her chair, looking ahead, knowing that he was as 
aware of her as she was of him. She found pleasure in the special self- 
consciousness it gave her. When she crossed her legs, when she leaned on her 
arm against the window sill, when she brushed her hair off her forehead— every 
movement of her body was underscored by a feeling the unadmitted words for 
which were: Is he seeing it? 

The towns had been left behind. The track was rising through a country 
growing more grimly reluctant to permit approach. The rails kept vanishing 
behind curves, and the ridges of hills kept moving closer, as if the plains 
were being folded into pleats. The flat stone shelves of Colorado were 
advancing to the edge of the track— and the distant reaches of the sky were 
shrinking into waves of bluish mountains. 

Far ahead, they saw a mist of smoke over factory chimneys— then the web of 
a power station and the lone needle of a steel structure. They were 
approaching Denver. 

She glanced at Pat Logan. He was leaning forward a little farther; she saw 
a slight tightening in the fingers of his hand and in his eyes. He knew, as 
she did, the danger of crossing a city at the speed they were traveling. 

It was a succession of minutes, but it hit them as a single whole. First, 
they saw the lone shapes, which were factories, rolling across their 
windowpanes— then the shapes fused into the blur of streets— then a delta of 
rails spread out before them, like the mouth of a funnel sucking them into 
the Taggart station, with nothing to protect them but the small green beads 
of lights scattered over the ground— from the height of the cab, they saw 
boxcars on sidings streak past as flat ribbons of roof tops —the black hole 
of the train-shed flew at their faces— they hurtled through an explosion of 
sound, the beating of wheels against the glass panes of a vault, and the 
screams of cheering from a mass that swayed like a liquid in the darkness 
among steel columns— they flew toward a glowing arch and the green lights 
hanging in the open sky beyond, the green lights that were like the doorknobs 
of space, throwing door after door open before them. Then, vanishing behind 
them, went the streets clotted with traffic, the open windows bulging with 
human figures, the screaming sirens, and— from the top of a distant 
skyscraper— a cloud of paper snowflakes shimmering on the air, flung by 
someone who saw the passage of a silver bullet across a city stopped still to 
watch it. 

Then they were out again, on a rocky grade— and with shocking suddenness, 
the mountains were before them, as if the city had flung them straight at a 
granite wall, and a thin ledge had caught them in time. They were clinging to 
the side of a vertical cliff, with the earth rolling down, dropping away, and 
giant tiers of twisted boulders streaming up and shutting out the sun, 
leaving them to speed through a bluish twilight, with no sight of soil or 

The curves of rail became coiling circles among walls that advanced to 
grind them off their sides. But the track cut through at times and the 
mountains parted, flaring open like two wings at the tip of the rail— one wing 
green, made of vertical needles, with whole pines serving as the pile of a 
solid carpet— the other reddish-brown, made of naked rock. 

She looked down through the open window and saw the silver side of the 
engine hanging over empty space. Far below, the thin thread of a stream went 
falling from ledge to ledge, and the ferns that drooped to the water were the 
shimmering tops of birch trees. She saw the engine's tail of boxcars winding 
along the face of a granite drop— and miles of contorted stone below, she saw 
the coils of green-blue rail unwinding behind the train. 

A wall of rock shot upward in their path, filling the windshield, 
darkening the cab, so close that it seemed as if the remnant of time could 
not let them escape it. But she heard the screech of wheels on curve, the 
light came bursting back— and she saw an open stretch of rail on a narrow 
shelf. The shelf ended in space. The nose of the engine was aimed straight at 
the sky. There was nothing to stop them but two strips of green-blue metal 
strung in a curve along the shelf. 

To take the pounding violence of sixteen motors, she thought, the thrust 
of seven thousand tons of steel and freight, to withstand it, grip it and 
swing it around a curve, was the impossible feat performed by two strips of 
metal no wider than her arm. What made it possible? What power had given to 
an unseen arrangement of molecules the power on which their lives depended 
and the lives of all the men who waited for the eighty boxcars? She saw a 
man's face and hands in the glow of a laboratory oven, over the white liquid 
of a sample of metal. 

She felt the sweep of an emotion which she could not contain, as of 
something bursting upward. She turned to the door of the motor units, she 
threw it open to a screaming jet of sound and escaped into the pounding of 
the engine's heart. 

For a moment, it was as if she were reduced to a single sense, the sense 
of hearing, and what remained of her hearing was only a long, rising, 
falling, rising scream. She stood in a swaying, sealed chamber of metal, 
looking at the giant generators. She had wanted to see them, because the 
sense of triumph within her was bound to them, to her love for them, to the 
reason of the life-work she had chosen. In the abnormal clarity of a violent 
emotion, she felt as if she were about to grasp something she had never known 
and had to know. She laughed aloud, but heard no sound of it; nothing could 
be heard through the continuous explosion. "The John Gait Line!" she shouted, 
for the amusement of feeling her voice swept away from her lips. 

She moved slowly along the length of the motor units, down a narrow 
passage between the engines and the wall. She felt the immodesty of an 
intruder, as if she had slipped inside a living creature, under its silver 
skin, and were watching its life beating in gray metal cylinders, in twisted 
coils, in sealed tubes, in the convulsive whirl of blades in wire cages. The 
enormous complexity of the shape above her was drained by invisible channels, 
and the violence raging within it was led to fragile needles on glass dials, 
to green and red beads winking on panels, to tall, thin cabinets stenciled 
"High Voltage." 

Why had she always felt that joyous sense of confidence when looking at 
machines ?— she thought. In these giant shapes, two aspects pertaining to the 
inhuman were radiantly absent: the causeless and the purposeless. Every part 
of the motors was an embodied answer to "Why?" 

and "What for?"— like the steps of a life-course chosen by the sort of mind 
she worshipped. The motors were a moral code cast in steel. 

They are alive, she thought, because they are the physical shape of the 
action of a living power— of the mind that had been able to grasp the whole of 
this complexity, to set its purpose, to give it form. For an instant, it 
seemed to her that the motors were transparent and she was seeing the net of 
their nervous system. It was a net of connections, more intricate, more 
crucial than all of their wires and circuits: the rational connections made 
by that human mind which had fashioned any one part of them for the first 
time . 

They are alive, she thought, but their soul operates them by remote 
control. Their soul is in every man who has the capacity to equal this 
achievement. Should the soul vanish from the earth, the motors would stop, 
because that is the power which keeps them going— not the oil under the floor 
under her feet, the oil that would then become primeval ooze again— not the 
steel cylinders that would become stains of rust on the walls of the caves of 
shivering savages— the power of a living mind —the power of thought and choice 
and purpose. 

She was making her way back toward the cab, feeling that she wanted to 
laugh, to kneel or to lift her arms, wishing she were able to release the 
thing she felt, knowing that it had no form of expression. 

She stopped She saw Rearden standing by the steps of the door to the cab. 
He was looking at her as if he knew why she had escaped and what she felt. 
They stood still, their bodies becoming a glance that met across a narrow 
passage. The beating within her was one with the beating of the motors— and 
she felt as if both came from him; the pounding rhythm wiped out her will. 
They went back to the cab, silently, knowing that there had been a moment 
which was not to be mentioned between them. 

The cliffs ahead were a bright, liquid gold. Strips of shadow were 
lengthening in the valleys below. The sun was descending to the peaks in the 
west. They were going west and up, toward the sun. 

The sky had deepened to the greenish-blue of the rails, when they saw 
smokestacks in a distant valley. It was one of Colorado's new towns, the 
towns that had grown like a radiation from the Wyatt oil fields. She saw the 
angular lines of modern houses, flat roofs, great sheets of windows. It was 
too far to distinguish people. In the moment when she thought that they would 
not be watching the train at that distance, a rocket shot out from among the 
buildings, rose high above the town and broke as a fountain of gold stars 
against the darkening sky. Men whom she could not see, were seeing the streak 
of the train on the side of the mountain, and were sending a salute, a lonely 
plume of fire in the dusk, the symbol of celebration or of a call for help. 

Beyond the next turn, in a sudden view of distance, she saw two dots of 
electric light, white and red, low in the sky. They were not airplanes '—she 
saw the cones of metal girders supporting them— and in the moment when she 
knew that they were the derricks of Wyatt Oil, she saw that the track was 
sweeping downward, that the earth flared open, as if the mountains were flung 
apart— and at the bottom, at the foot of the Wyatt hill, across the dark crack 
of a canyon, she saw the bridge of Rearden Metal. 

They were flying down, she forgot the careful grading, the great curves of 
the gradual descent, she felt as if the train were plunging downward, head 
first, she watched the bridge growing to meet them— a small, square tunnel of 
metal lace work, a few beams criss-crossed through the air, green-blue and 
glowing, struck by a long ray of sunset light from some crack in the barrier 

of mountains. There were people by the bridge, the dark splash of a crowd, 
but they rolled off the edge of her consciousness. She heard the rising, 
accelerating sound of the wheels— and some theme of music, heard to the rhythm 
of wheels, kept tugging at her mind, growing louder— it burst suddenly within 
the cab, but she knew that it was only in her mind; the Fifth Concerto by 
Richard Halley— she thought: did he write it for this? had he known a feeling 
such as this?— 

they were going faster, they had left the ground, she thought, flung off 
by the mountains as by a springboard, they were now sailing through space- 
it's not a fair test, she thought, we're not going to touch that bridge— she 
saw Rearden's face above her, she held his eyes and her head leaned back, so 
that her face lay still on the air under his face— 

they heard a ringing blast of metal, they heard a drum roll under their 
feet, the diagonals of the bridge went smearing across the windows with the 
sound of a metal rod being run along the pickets of a fence— then the windows 
were too suddenly clear, the sweep of their downward plunge was carrying them 
up a hill, the derricks of Wyatt Oil were reeling before them— Pat Logan 
turned, glancing up at Rearden with the hint of a smile— and Rearden said, 
"That's that." 

The sign on the edge of a roof read: Wyatt Junction. She stared, feeling 
that there was something odd about it, until she grasped what it was: the 
sign did not move. The sharpest jolt of the journey was the realization that 
the engine stood still. 

She heard voices somewhere, she looked down and saw that there were people 
on the platform. Then the door of the cab was flung open, she knew that she 
had to be first to descend, and she stepped to the edge. 

For the flash of an instant, she felt the slenderness of her own body, the 
lightness of standing full-figure in a current of open air. She gripped the 
metal bars and started down the ladder. She was halfway down when she felt 
the palms of a man's hands slam tight against her ribs and waistline, she was 
torn off the steps, swung through the air and deposited on the ground. She 
could not believe that the young boy laughing in her face was Ellis Wyatt. 
The tense, scornful face she remembered, now had the purity, the eagerness, 
the joyous benevolence of a child in the kind of world for which he had been 
intended . 

She was leaning against his shoulder, feeling unsteady on the motionless 
ground, with his arm about her, she was laughing, she was listening to the 
things he said, she was answering, "But didn't you know we would?" 

In a moment, she saw the faces around them. They were the bondholders of 
the John Gait Line, the men who were Nielsen Motors, Hammond Cars, Stockton 
Foundry and all the others. She shook their hands, and there were no 
speeches; she stood against Ellis Wyatt, sagging a little, brushing her hair 
away from her eyes, leaving smudges of soot on her forehead. She shook the 
hands of the men of the train's crew, without words, with the seal of the 
grins on their faces. There were flash bulbs exploding around them, and men 
waving to them from the riggings of the oil wells on the slopes of the 
mountains. Above her head, above the heads of the crowd, the letters TT on a 
silver shield were hit by the last ray of a sinking sun. 

Ellis Wyatt had taken charge. He was leading her somewhere, the sweep of 
his arm cutting a path for them through the crowd, when one of the men with 
the cameras broke through to her side. "Miss Taggart, " 

he called, "will you give us a message for the public?" Ellis Wyatt 
pointed at the long string of freight cars. "She has." 

Then she was sitting in the back seat of an open car, driving up the 
curves of a mountain road. The man beside her was Rearden, the driver was 
Ellis Wyatt. 

They stopped at a house that stood on the edge of a cliff, with no other 
habitation anywhere in sight, with the whole of the oil fields spread on the 
slopes below. 

"Why, of course you're staying at my house overnight, both of you," 

said Ellis Wyatt, as they went in. "Where did you expect to stay?" 

She laughed. "I don't know, I hadn't thought of it at all." 

"The nearest town is an hour's drive away. That's where your crew has 
gone: your boys at the division point are giving a party in their honor. So 
is the whole town. But I told Ted Nielsen and the others that we'd have no 
banquets for you and no oratory. Unless you'd like it?" 

"God, no!" she said. "Thanks, Ellis." 

It was dark when they sat at the dinner table in a room that had large 
windows and a few pieces of costly furniture. The dinner was served by a 
silent figure in a white jacket, the only other inhabitant of the house, an 
elderly Indian with a stony face and a courteous manner. A few points of fire 
were scattered through the room, running over and out beyond the windows: the 
candles on the table, the lights on the derricks, and the stars. 

"Do you think that you have your hands full now?" Ellis Wyatt was saying. 
"Just give me a year and I'll give you something to keep you busy. Two tank 
trains a day, Dagny? It's going to be four or six or as many as you wish me 
to fill." His hand swept over the lights on the mountains. "This? It's 
nothing, compared to what I've got coming." He pointed west. "The Buena 
Esperanza Pass. Five miles from here. Everybody's wondering what I'm doing 
with it. Oil shale. How many years ago was it that they gave up trying to get 
oil from shale, because it was too expensive? Well, wait till you see the 
process I've developed. It will be the cheapest oil ever to splash in their 
faces, and an unlimited supply of it, an untapped supply that will make the 
biggest oil pool look like a mud puddle. Did I order a pipe line? Hank, you 
and I will have to build pipe lines in all directions to . . . Oh, I beg your 
pardon. I don't believe I introduced myself when I spoke to you at the 
station. I haven't even told you my name." 

Rearden grinned. "I've guessed it by now." 

"I'm sorry, I don't like to be careless, but I was too excited." 

"What were you excited about?" asked Dagny, her eyes narrowed in mockery. 

Wyatt held her glance for a moment; his answer had a tone of solemn 
intensity strangely conveyed by a smiling voice. "About the most beautiful 
slap in the face I ever got and deserved." 

"Do you mean, for our first meeting?" 

"I mean, for our first meeting." 

"Don't. You were right." 

"I was. About everything but you. Dagny, to find an exception after years 
of . . . Oh, to hell with them! Do you want me to turn on the radio and hear 
what they're saying about the two of you tonight?" 

"No . " 

"Good. I don't want to hear them. Let them swallow their own speeches. 
They're all climbing on the band wagon now. We're the band." 
He glanced at Rearden. "What are you smiling at?" 
"I've always been curious to see what you're like." 
"I've never had a chance to be what I'm like— except tonight." 
"Do you live here alone, like this, miles away from everything?" 
Wyatt pointed at the window. "I'm a couple of steps away from— 
everything . " 
"What about people?" 

"I have guest rooms for the kind of people who come to see me on business. 
I want as many miles as possible between myself and all the other kinds." He 
leaned forward to refill their wine glasses. "Hank, why don't you move to 
Colorado? To hell with New York and the Eastern Seaboard! This is the capital 

of the Renaissance. The Second Renaissance— not of oil paintings and 
cathedrals— but of oil derricks, power plants, and motors made of Rearden 
Metal. They had the Stone Age and the Iron Age and now they're going to call 
it the Rearden Metal Age— because there's no limit to what your Metal has made 
possible . " 

"I'm going to buy a few square miles of Pennsylvania," said Rearden. 

"The ones around my mills. It would have been cheaper to build a branch 
here, as I wanted, but you know why I can't, and to hell with them! Ill beat 
them anyway. I'm going to expand the mills— and if she can give me three-day 
freight service to Colorado, I'll give you a race for who's going to be the 
capital of the Renaissance!" 

"Give me a year, " said Dagny, "of running trains on the John Gait Line, 
give me time to pull the Taggart system together— and I'll give you three-day 
freight service across the continent, on a Rearden Metal track from ocean to 
ocean ! " 

"Who was it that said he needed a fulcrum?" said Ellis Wyatt. "Give me an 
unobstructed right-of-way and I'll show them how to move the earth!" 

She wondered what it was that she liked about the sound of Wyatt ' s 
laughter. Their voices, even her own, had a tone she had never heard before. 
When they rose from the table, she was astonished to notice that the candles 
were the only illumination of the room: she had felt as if she were sitting 
in a violent light. 

Ellis Wyatt picked up his glass, looked at their faces and said, "To the 
world as it seems to be right now!" 

He emptied the glass with a single movement. 

She heard the crash of the glass against the wall in the same instant that 
she saw a circling current— from the curve of his body to the sweep of his arm 
to the terrible violence of his hand that flung the glass across the room. It 
was not the conventional gesture meant as celebration, it was the gesture of 
a rebellious anger, the vicious gesture which is movement substituted for a 
scream of pain. 

"Ellis," she whispered, "what's the matter?" 

He turned to look at her. With the same violent suddenness, his eyes were 
clear, his face was calm; what frightened her was seeing him smile gently. 
"I'm sorry," he said. "Never mind. We'll try to think that it will last." 

The earth below was streaked with moonlight, when Wyatt led them up an 
outside stairway to the second floor of the house, to the open gallery at the 
doors of the guest rooms. He wished them good night and they heard his steps 
descending the stairs. The moonlight seemed to drain sound as it drained 
color. The steps rolled into a distant past, and when they died, the silence 
had the quality of a solitude that had lasted for a long time, as if no 
person were left anywhere in reach. 

She did not turn to the door of her room. He did not move. At the level of 
their feet, there was nothing but a thin railing and a spread of space. 
Angular tiers descended below, with shadows repeating the steel tracery of 
derricks, criss-crossing sharp, black lines on patches of glowing rock. A few 
lights, white and red, trembled in the clear air, like drops of rain caught 
on the edges of steel girders. Far in the distance, three small drops were 
green, strung in a line along the Taggart track. 

Beyond them, at the end of space, at the foot of a white curve, hung a 
webbed rectangle which was the bridge. 

She felt a rhythm without sound or movement, a sense of beating tension, 
as if the wheels of the John Gait Line were still speeding on. 

Slowly, in answer and in resistance to an unspoken summons, she turned and 
looked at him. 

The look she saw on his face made her know for the first time that she had 
known this would be the end of the journey. That look was not as men are 

taught to represent it, it was not a matter of loose muscles, hanging lips 
and mindless hunger. The lines of his face were pulled tight, giving it a 
peculiar purity, a sharp precision of form, making it clean and young. His 
mouth was taut, the lips faintly drawn inward, stressing the outline of its 
shape. Only his eyes were blurred, their lower lids swollen and raised, their 
glance intent with that which resembled hatred and pain. 

The shock became numbness spreading through her body— she felt a tight 
pressure in her throat and her stomach— she was conscious of nothing but a 
silent convulsion that made her unable to breathe. But what she felt, without 
words for it, was: Yes, Hank, yes— now— because it is part of the same battle, 
in some way that I can't name . . . because it is our being, against theirs . 
. . our great capacity, for which they torture us, the capacity of happiness 
. . . Now, like this, without words or questions . . . because we want it. . 

It was like an act of hatred, like the cutting blow of a lash encircling 
her body: she felt his arms around her, she felt her legs pulled forward 
against him and her chest bent back under the pressure of his, his mouth on 
hers . 

Her hand moved from his shoulders to his waist to his legs, releasing the 
unconfessed desire of her every meeting with him. When she tore her mouth 
away from him, she was laughing soundlessly, in triumph, as if saying: Hank 
Rearden— the austere, unapproachable Hank Rearden of the monk like office, the 
business conferences, the harsh bargains— do you remember them now?— I'm 
thinking of it, for the pleasure of knowing that I've brought you to this. He 
was not smiling, his face was tight, it was the face of an enemy, he jerked 
her head and caught her mouth again, as if he were inflicting a wound. 

She felt him trembling and she thought that this was the kind of cry she 
had wanted to tear from him— this surrender through the shreds of his tortured 
resistance. Yet she knew, at the same time, that the triumph was his, that 
her laughter was her tribute to him, that her defiance was submission, that 
the purpose of all of her violent strength was only to make his victory the 
greater— he was holding her body against his, as if stressing his wish to let 
her know that she was now only a tool for the satisfaction of his desire— and 
his victory, she knew, was her wish to let him reduce her to that. Whatever I 
am, she thought, whatever pride of person I may hold, the pride of my 
courage, of my work, of my mind and my freedom— that is what I offer you for 
the pleasure of your body, that is what I want you to use in your service— and 
that you want it to serve you is the greatest reward I can have. 

There were lights burning in the two rooms behind them. He took her wrist 
and threw her inside his room, making the gesture tell her that he needed no 
sign of consent or resistance. He locked the door, watching her face. 
Standing straight, holding his glance, she extended her arm to the lamp on 
the table and turned out the light. He approached. He turned the light on 
again, with a single, contemptuous jerk of his wrist. 

She saw him smile for the first time, a slow, mocking, sensual smile that 
stressed the purpose of his action. 

He was holding her half-stretched across the bed, he was tearing her 
clothes off. while her face was pressed against him, her mouth, moving down 
the line of his neck, down his shoulder. She knew that every gesture of her 
desire for him struck him like a blow, that there was some shudder of 
incredulous anger within him— yet that no gesture would satisfy his greed for 
every evidence of her desire. 

He stood looking down at her naked body, he leaned over, she heard his 
voice— it was more a statement of contemptuous triumph than a question: "You 
want it?" Her answer was more a gasp than a word, her eyes closed, her mouth 
open : "Yes . " 

She knew that what she felt with the skin of her arms was the cloth of his 
shirt, she knew that the lips she felt on her mouth were his, but in the rest 
of her there was no distinction between his being and her own, as there was 
no division between body and spirit. Through all the steps of the years 
behind them, the steps down a course chosen in the courage of a single 
loyalty: their love of existence— chosen in the knowledge that nothing will be 
given, that one must make one's own desire and every shape of its 
fulfillment— through the steps of shaping metal, rails and motors— they had 
moved by the power of the thought that one remakes the earth for one's 
enjoyment, that man's spirit gives meaning to insentient matter by molding it 
to serve one's chosen goal. The course led them to the moment when, in answer 
to the highest of one's values, in an admiration not to be expressed by any 
other form of tribute, one's spirit makes one's body become the tribute, 
recasting it— as proof, as sanction, as reward— into a single sensation of such 
intensity of joy that no other sanction of one's existence is necessary. He 
heard the moan of her breath, she felt the shudder of his body, in the same 
instant . 


She looked at the glowing bands on the skin of her arm, spaced like 
bracelets from her wrist to her shoulder. They were strips of sunlight from 
the Venetian blinds on the window of an unfamiliar room. She saw a bruise 
above her elbow, with dark beads that had been blood. Her arm lay on the 
blanket that covered her body. She was aware of her legs and hips, but the 
rest of her body was only a sense of lightness, as if it were stretched 
restfully across the air in a place that looked like a cage made of sunrays . 

Turning to look at him, she thought: From his aloofness, from his manner 
of glass-enclosed formality, from his pride in never being made to feel 
anything— to this, to Hank Rearden in bed beside her, after hours of a 
violence which they could not name now, not in words or in daylight— but which 
was in their eyes, as they looked at each other, which they wanted to name, 
to stress, to throw at each other's face. 

He saw the face of a young girl, her lips suggesting a smile, as if her 
natural state of relaxation were a state of radiance, a lock of hair falling 
across her cheek to the curve of a naked shoulder, her eyes looking at him as 
if she were ready to accept anything he might wish to say, as she had been 
ready to accept anything he had wished to do. 

He reached over and moved the lock of hair from her cheek, cautiously, as 
if it were fragile. He held it back with his fingertips and looked at her 
face. Then his fingers closed suddenly in her hair and he raised the lock to 
his lips. The way he pressed his mouth to it was tenderness, but the way his 
fingers held it was despair. 

He dropped back on the pillow and lay still, his eyes closed. His face 
seemed young, at peace. Seeing it for a moment without the reins of tension, 
she realized suddenly the extent of the unhappiness he had borne; but it's 
past now, she thought, it's over. 

He got up, not looking at her. His face was blank and closed again. 

He picked up his clothes from the floor and proceeded to dress, standing 
in the middle of the room, half-turned away from her. He acted, not as if she 
wasn't present, but as if it did not matter that she was. His movements, as 
he buttoned his shirt, as he buckled the belt of his slacks, had the rapid 
precision of performing a duty. 

She lay back on the pillow, watching him, enjoying the sight of his figure 
in motion. She liked the gray slacks and shirt— the expert mechanic of the 
John Gait Line, she thought, in the stripes of sunlight and shadow, like a 
convict behind bars. But they were not bars any longer, they were the cracks 
of a wall which the John Gait Line had broken, the advance notice of what 
awaited them outside, beyond the Venetian blinds— she thought of the trip 
back, on the new rail, with the first train from Wyatt Junction— the trip back 
to her office in the Taggart Building and to all the things now open for her 
to win— but she was free to let it wait, she did not want to think of it, she 
was thinking of the first touch of his mouth on hers— she was free to feel it, 
to hold a moment when nothing else was of any concern— she smiled defiantly at 
the strips of sky beyond the blinds. 

"I want you to know this." 

He stood by the bed, dressed, looking down at her. His voice had 
pronounced it evenly, with great clarity and no inflection. She looked up at 
him obediently. He said: "What I feel for you is contempt. But it's nothing, 
compared to the contempt I feel for myself. I don't love you. I've never 
loved anyone. 

I wanted you from the first moment I saw you. I wanted you as one wants a 
whore— for the same reason and purpose. I spent two years damning myself, 
because I thought you were above a desire of this kind. 

You're not. You're as vile an animal as I am. I should loathe my 
discovering it. I don't. Yesterday, I would have killed anyone who'd tell me 
that you were capable of doing what I've had you do. Today, I would give my 
life not to let it be otherwise, not to have you be anything but the bitch 
you are. All the greatness that I saw in you— I would not take it in exchange 
for the obscenity of your talent at an animal's sensation of pleasure. We 
were two great beings, you and I, proud of our strength, weren't we? Well, 
this is all that's left of us— and I want no self-deception about it." 

He spoke slowly, as if lashing himself with his words. There was no sound 
of emotion in his voice, only the lifeless pull of effort; it was not the 
tone of a man's willingness to speak, but the ugly, tortured sound of duty. 

"I held it as my honor that I would never need anyone. I need you. 

It had been my pride that I had always acted on my convictions. I've given 
in to a desire which I despise. It is a desire that has reduced my mind, my 
will, my being, my power to exist into an abject dependence upon you— not even 
upon the Dagny Taggart whom I admired— but upon your body, your hands, your 
mouth and the few seconds of a convulsion of your muscles. I had never broken 
my word. Now I've broken an oath I gave for life. I had never committed an 
act that had to be hidden. Now I am to lie, to sneak, to hide. Whatever I 
wanted, I was free to proclaim it aloud and achieve it in the sight of the 
whole world. 

Now my only desire is one I loathe to name even to myself. But it is my 
only desire. I'm going to have you— I ' d give up everything I own for it, the 
mills, the Metal, the achievement of my whole life. I'm going to have you at 
the price of more than myself: at the price of my self esteem— and I want you 
to know it. I want no pretense, no evasion, no silent indulgence, with the 
nature of our actions left unnamed. I want no pretense about love, value, 
loyalty or respect. I want no shred of honor left to us, to hide behind. I've 
never begged for mercy. I've chosen to do this— and I'll take all the 
consequences, including the full recognition of my choice. It's depravity— and 
I accept it as such— and there is no height of virtue that I wouldn't give up 
for it. Now if you wish to slap my face, go ahead. I wish you would." 

She had listened, sitting up straight, holding the blanket clutched at her 
throat to cover her body. At first, he had seen her eyes growing dark with 
incredulous shock. Then it seemed to him that she was listening with greater 
attentiveness , but seeing more than his face, even though her eyes were fixed 
on his. She looked as if she were studying intently some revelation that had 
never confronted her before. He felt as if some ray of light were growing 
stronger on his face, because he saw its reflection on hers, as she watched 
him— he saw the shock vanishing, then the wonder— he saw her face being 
smoothed into a strange serenity that seemed quiet and glittering at once. 

When he stopped, she burst out laughing. 

The shock to him was that he heard no anger in her laughter. She laughed 
simply, easily, in joyous amusement, in release, not as one laughs at the 
solution of a problem, but at the discovery that no problem had ever existed. 

She threw the blanket off with a stressed, deliberate sweep of her arm. 

She stood up. She saw her clothes on the floor and kicked them aside. 

She stood facing him, naked. She said: "I want you, Hank. I'm much more of 
an animal than you think. I wanted you from the first moment I saw you— and 
the only thing I'm ashamed of is that I did not know it. I did not know why, 
for two years, the brightest moments I found were the ones in your office, 
where I could lift my head to look up at you. I did not know the nature of 
what I felt in your presence, nor the reason. I know it now. That is all I 
want, Hank. I want you in my bed— and you are free of me for all the rest of 
your time. There's nothing you'll have to pretend— don ' t think of me, don't 
feel, don't care— I do not want your mind, your will, your being or your soul, 
so long as it's to me that you will come for that lowest one of your desires. 

I am an animal who wants nothing but that sensation of pleasure which you 
despise--but I want it from you. You'd give up any height of virtue for it, 
while I— I haven't any to give up. There's none I seek or wish to reach. I am 
so low that I would exchange the greatest sight of beauty in the world for 
the sight of your figure in the cab of a railroad engine. And seeing it, I 
would not be able to see it indifferently. You don't have to fear that you're 
now dependent upon me. It's I who will depend on any whim of yours. You'll 
have me any time you wish, anywhere, on any. terms. Did you call it the 
obscenity of my talent? It's such that it gives you a safer hold on me than 
on any other property you own. You may dispose of me as you please— I'm not 
afraid to admit it— L have nothing to protect from you and nothing to reserve. 
You think that this is a threat to your achievement, but it is not to mine. I 
will sit at my desk, and work, and when the things around me get hard to 
bear, I will think that for my reward I will be in your bed that night. Did 
you call it depravity? I am much more depraved than you are: you hold it as 
your guilt, and I— as my pride. I'm more proud of it than of anything I've 
done, more proud than of building the Line. 

If I'm asked to name my proudest attainment, I will say: I have slept with 
Hank Rearden. I had earned it.'l 

When he threw her down on the bed, their bodies met like the two sounds 
that broke against each other in the air of the room: the sound of his 
tortured moan and of her laughter. 

The rain was invisible in the darkness of the streets, but it hung like 
the sparkling fringe of a lampshade under the corner light. Fumbling in his 
pockets, James Taggart discovered that he had lost his handkerchief. 

He swore half-aloud, with resentful malice, as if the loss, the rain and 
his head cold were someone's personal conspiracy against him. 

There was a thin gruel of mud on the pavements; he felt a gluey suction 
under his shoe soles and a chill slipping down past his collar. He did not 
want to walk or to stop. He had no place to go. 

Leaving his office, after the meeting of the Board of Directors, he had 
realized suddenly that there were no other appointments, that he had a long 
evening ahead and no one to help him kill it. The front pages of the 
newspapers were screaming of the triumph of the John Gait Line, as the radios 
had screamed it yesterday and all through the night. The name of Taggart 
Transcontinental was stretched in headlines across the continent, like its 
track, and he had smiled in answer to the congratulations. He had smiled, 
seated at the bead of the long table, at the Board meeting, while the 
Directors spoke about the soaring rise of the Taggart stock on the Exchange, 
while they cautiously asked to see his written agreement with his sister— just 
in case, they said— and commented that it was fine, it was hole proof, there 
was no doubt but that she would have to turn the Line over to Taggart 
Transcontinental at once, they spoke about their brilliant future and the 
debt of gratitude which the company owed to James Taggart. 

He had sat through the meeting, wishing it were over with, so that he 
could go home. Then he had stepped out into the street and realized that home 
was the one place where he dared not go tonight. He could not be alone, not 
in the next few hours, yet there was nobody to call. 

He did not want to see people. He kept seeing the eyes of the men of the 
Board when they spoke about his greatness: a sly, filmy look that held 
contempt for him and, more terrif yingly, for themselves. 

He walked, head down, a needle of rain pricking the skin of his neck once 
in a while. He looked away whenever he passed a newsstand. The papers seemed 
to shriek at him the name of the John Gait Line, and another name which he 
did not want to hear: Ragnar Danneskjold. A ship bound for the People's State 
of Norway with an Emergency Gift cargo of machine tools had been seized by 
Ragnar Danneskjold last night. That story disturbed him in some personal 

manner which he could not explain. The feeling seemed to have some quality in 
common with the things he felt about the John Gait Line. 

It's because he had a cold, he thought; he wouldn't feel this way if he 
didn't have a cold; a man couldn't be expected to be in top form when he had 
a cold— he couldn't help it— what did they expect him to do tonight, sing and 
dance?— he snapped the question angrily at the unknown judges of his 
unwitnessed mood. He fumbled for his handkerchief again, cursed and decided 
that he'd better stop somewhere to buy some paper tissues. 

Across the square of what had once been a busy neighborhood, he saw the 
lighted windows of a dime store, still open hopefully at this late hour. 
There's another one that will go out of business pretty soon, he thought as 
he crossed the square; the thought gave him pleasure. 

There were glaring lights inside, a few tired salesgirls among a spread of 
deserted counters, and the screaming of a phonograph record being played for 
a lone, listless customer in a corner. The music swallowed the sharp edges of 
Taggart's voice: he asked for paper tissues in a tone which implied that the 
salesgirl was responsible for his cold. The girl turned to the counter behind 
her, but turned back once to glance swiftly at his face. She took a packet, 
but stopped, hesitating, studying him with peculiar curiosity. 

"Are you James Taggart?" she asked. 

"Yes!" he snapped. "Why?" 

"Oh ! " 

She gasped like a child at a burst of firecrackers; she was looking at him 
with a glance which he had thought to be reserved only for movie stars. 

"I saw your picture in the paper this morning, Mr. Taggart," she said very 
rapidly, a faint flush appearing on her face and vanishing. "It said what a 
great achievement it was and how it was really you who had done it all, only 
you didn't want it to be known." 

"Oh," said Taggart. He was smiling. 

"You look just like your picture," she said in immense astonishment, and 
added, "Imagine you walking in here like this, in person!" 
"Shouldn't I?" His tone was amused. 

"I mean, everybody's talking about it, the whole country, and you're the 
man who did it— and here you are! I've never seen an important person before. 
I've never been so close to anything important, I mean to any newspaper 
news . " 

He had never had the experience of seeing his presence give color to a 
place he entered: the girl looked as if she was not tired any longer, as if 
the dime store had become a scene of drama and wonder. 

"Mr. Taggart, is it true, what they said about you in the paper?" 

"What did they say?" 

"About your secret." 

"What secret?" 

"Well, they said that when everybody was fighting about your bridge, 
whether it would stand or not, you didn't argue with them, you just went 
ahead, because you knew it would stand, when nobody else was sure of it— so 
the Line was a Taggart project and you were the guiding spirit behind the 
scenes, but you kept it secret, because you didn't care whether you got 
credit for it or not." 

He had seen the mimeographed release of his Public Relations Department. 
"Yes," he said, "it's true." The way she looked at him made him feel as if it 
were . 

"It was wonderful of you, Mr. Taggart." 

"Do you always remember what you read in the newspapers, so well, in such 

"Why, yes, I guess so— all the interesting things. The big things. I like 
to read about them. Nothing big ever happens to me." 

She said it gaily, without self-pity. There was a young, determined 
brusqueness in her voice and movements. She had a head of reddish brown 
curls, wide-set eyes, a few freckles on the bridge of an upturned nose. He 
thought that one would call her face attractive if one ever noticed it, but 
there was no particular reason to notice it. It was a common little face, 
except for a look of alertness, of eager interest, a look that expected the 
world to contain an exciting secret behind every corner. 

"Mr. Taggart, how does it feel to be a great man?" 

"How does it feel to be a little girl?" 

She laughed. "Why, wonderful." 

"Then you're better off than I am." 

"Oh, how can you say such a—" 

"Maybe you're lucky if you don't have anything to do with the big events 
in the newspapers. Big. What do you call big, anyway?" 
"Why . . . important." 
"What's important?" 

"You're the one who ought to tell me that, Mr. Taggart." 
"Nothing's important." 

She looked at him incredulously. "You, of all people, saying that tonight 
of all nights!" 

"1 don't feel wonderful at all, if that's what you want to know. I've 
never felt less wonderful in my life." 

He was astonished to see her studying his face with a look of concern such 
as no one had ever granted him. "You're worn out, Mr. Taggart," 

she said earnestly. "Tell them to go to hell." 


"Whoever 's getting you down. It isn't right," 
"What isn't?" 

"That you should feel this way. You've had a tough time, but you've licked 
them all, so you ought to enjoy yourself now. You've earned it." 
"And how do you propose that I enjoy myself?" 

"Oh, I don't know. But I thought you'd be having a celebration tonight, a 
party with all the big shots, and champagne, and things given to you, like 
keys to cities, a real swank party like that— instead of walking around all by 
yourself, shopping for paper handkerchiefs, of all fool things!" 

"You give me those handkerchiefs, before you forget them altogether," he 
said, handing her a dime. "And as to the swank party, did it occur to you 
that I might not want to see anybody tonight?" 

She considered it earnestly. "No," she said, "I hadn't thought of it. 

But I can see why you wouldn't." 

"Why?" It was a question to which he bad no answer. 

"Nobody's really good enough for you, Mr. Taggart," she answered very 
simply, not as flattery, but as a matter of fact. 
"Is that what you think?" 

"I don't think I like people very much, Mr. Taggart. Not most of them." 
"I don't either. Not any of them." 

"I thought a man like you— you wouldn't know how mean they can be and how 
they try to step on you and ride on your back, if you let them. I thought the 
big men in the world could get away from them and not have to be flea-bait 
all of the time, but maybe I was wrong." 

"What do you mean, flea-bait?" 

"Oh, it's just something I tell myself when things get tough— that I've got 
to beat my way out to where I won't feel like I'm flea-bitten all the time by 
all kinds of lousiness— but maybe it's the same anywhere, only the fleas get 
bigger . " 

"Much bigger." 

She remained silent, as if considering something. "It's funny," she said 
sadly to some thought of her own. 
"What's funny?" 

"I read a book once where it said that great men are always unhappy, and 
the greater— the unhappier. It didn't make sense to me. But maybe it's true." 
"It's much truer than you think." 
She looked away, her face disturbed. 

"Why do you worry so much about the great men?" he asked. "What are you, a 
hero worshipper of some kind?" 

She turned to look at him and he saw the light of an inner smile, while 
her face remained solemnly grave; it was the most eloquently personal glance 
he had ever seen directed at himself, while she answered in a quiet, 
impersonal voice, "Mr. Taggart, what else is there to look up to?" 

A screeching sound, neither quite bell nor buzzer, rang out suddenly and 
went on ringing with nerve-grating insistence. 

She jerked her head, as if awakening at the scream of an alarm clock, then 
sighed. "That's closing time, Mr. Taggart," she said regretfully. 

"Go get your hat— I'll wait for you outside," he said. 

She stared at him, as if among all of life's possibilities this was one 
she had never held as conceivable. 
"No kidding?" she whispered. 
"No kidding . " 

She whirled around and ran like a streak to the door of the employeesl 
quarters, forgetting her counter, her duties and all feminine concern 
about never showing eagerness in accepting a man's invitation. 

He stood looking after her for a moment, his eyes narrowed. He did not 
name to himself the nature of his own feeling— never to identify his emotions 
was the only steadfast rule of his life; he merely felt it— and this 
particular feeling was pleasurable, which was the only identification he 
cared to know. But the feeling was the product of a thought he would not 
utter. He had often met girls of the lower classes, who had put on a brash 
little act, pretending to look up to him, spilling crude flattery for an 
obvious purpose; he had neither liked nor resented them; he had found a bored 
amusement in their company and he had granted them the status of his equals 
in a game he considered natural to both players involved. This girl was 
different. The unuttered words in his mind were: The damn little fool means 

That he waited for her impatiently, when he stood in the rain on the 
sidewalk, that she was the one person he needed tonight, did not disturb him 
or strike him as a contradiction. He did not name the nature of his need. The 
unnamed and the unuttered could not clash into a contradiction. 

When she came out, he noted the peculiar combination of her shyness and of 
her head held high. She wore an ugly raincoat, made worse by a gob of cheap 
jewelry on the lapel, and a small hat of plush flowers planted defiantly 
among her curls. Strangely, the lift of her head made the apparel seem 
attractive; it stressed how well she wore even the things she wore. 

"Want to come to my place and have a drink with me?" he asked. 

She nodded silently, solemnly, as if not trusting herself to find the 
right words of acceptance. Then she said, not looking at him, as if stating 
it to herself, "You didn't want to see anybody tonight, but you want o see 
me. . . "He had never heard so solemn a tone of pride in anyone's voice. 

She was silent, when she sat beside him in the taxicab. She looked up at 
the skyscrapers they passed. After a while, she said, "I heard that things 
like this happened in New York, but I never thought they'd happen to me." 

"Where do you come from?" 

"Buffalo. " 

"Got any family?" 

She hesitated. "I guess so. In Buffalo." 
"What do you mean, you guess so?" 
"I walked out on them." 

"I thought that if I ever was to amount to anything, I had to get away 
from them, clean away." 
"Why? What happened?" 

"Nothing happened. And nothing was ever going to happen. That's what I 
couldn't stand." 

"What do you mean?" 

"Well, they . . . well, I guess I ought to tell you the truth, Mr. 
Taggart . My old man's never been any good, and Ma didn't care whether he was 
or not, and I got sick of it always turning out that I was the only one of 
the seven of us that kept a job, and the rest of them always being out of 
luck, one way or another. I thought if I didn't get out, it would get me— I ' d 
rot all the way through, like the rest of them. So I bought a railroad ticket 
one day and left. Didn't say good-bye. They didn't even know I was going." 
She gave a soft, startled little laugh at a sudden thought. "Mr. Taggart," 
she said, "it was a Taggart train." 

"When did you come here?" 

"Six months ago." 

"And you're all alone?" 

"Yes," she said happily. 

"What was it you wanted to do?" 

"Well, you know— make something of myself, get somewhere." 

"Oh, I don't know, but . . . but people do things in the world. 1 

saw pictures of New York and I thought"— she pointed at the giant buildings 
beyond the streaks of rain on the cab window— "I thought, somebody built those 
buildings— he didn't just sit and whine that the kitchen was filthy and the 
roof leaking and the plumbing clogged and it's a goddamn world and . . .Mr. 
Taggart"— she jerked her head in a shudder and looked straight at him— "we were 
stinking poor and not giving a damn about it. That's what I couldn't take- 
that they didn't really give a damn. Not enough to lift a finger. Not enough 
to empty the garbage pail. And the woman next door saying it was my duty to 
help them, saying it made no difference what became of me or of her or of any 
of us, because what could anybody do anyway!" Beyond the bright look of her 
eyes, he saw something within her that was hurt and hard. 

"I don't want to talk about them," she said. "Not with you. This— my 
meeting you, I mean— that ' s what they couldn't have. That's what I'm not going 
to share with them. It's mine, not theirs." 

"How old are you?" he asked. 

"Nineteen . " 

When he looked at her in the lights of his living room, he thought that 
she'd have a good figure if she'd eat a few meals; she seemed too thin for 
the height and structure of her bones. She wore a tight, shabby little black 
dress, which she had tried to camouflage by the gaudy plastic bracelets 
tinkling on her wrist. She stood looking at his room as if it were a museum 
where she must touch nothing and reverently memorize everything. 

"What's your name?" he asked. 

"Cherryl Brooks." 

"Well, sit down." 

He mixed the drinks in silence, while she waited obediently, sitting on 
the edge of an armchair. When he handed her a glass, she swallowed dutifully 
a few times, then held the glass clutched in her hand. He knew that she did 
not taste what she was drinking, did not notice it, had no time to care. 

He took a gulp of his drink and put the glass down with irritation: he did 
not feel like drinking, either. He paced the room sullenly, knowing that her 
eyes followed him, enjoying the knowledge, enjoying the sense of tremendous 
significance which his movements, his cuff links, his shoelaces, his 
lampshades and ashtrays acquired in that gentle, unquestioning glance. 

"Mr. Taggart, what is it that makes you so unhappy?" 

"Why should you care whether I am or not?" 

"Because . . . well, if you haven't the right to be happy and proud, who 

"That's what I want to know— who has?" He turned to her abruptly, the words 
exploding as if a safety fuse had blown. "He didn't invent iron ore and blast 
furnaces, did he?" 


"Rearden. He didn't invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He 
couldn't have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other 
people. His Metal! Why does he think it's his? Why does he think it's his 
invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. 

Nobody ever invents anything." 

She said, puzzled, "But the iron ore and all those other things were there 
all the time. Why didn't anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. 
Rearden did?" 

"He didn't do it for any noble purpose, he did it just for his own profit, 
he's never done anything for any other reason." 

"What's wrong with that, Mr. Taggart?" Then she laughed softly, as if at 
the sudden solution of a riddle. "That's nonsense, Mr. Taggart. You don't 
mean it. You know that Mr. Rearden has earned all his profits, and so have 
you. You're saying those things just to be modest, when everybody knows what 
a great job you people have done— you and Mr. Rearden and your sister, who 
must be such a wonderful person!" 

"Yeah? That's what you think. She's a hard, insensitive woman who spends 
her life building tracks and bridges, not for any great ideal, but only 
because that's what she enjoys doing. If she enjoys it, what is there to 
admire about her doing it? I'm not so sure it was great— building that Line 
for all those prosperous industrialists in Colorado, when there are so many 
poor people in blighted areas who need transportation." 

"But, Mr. Taggart, it was you who fought to build that Line." 

"Yes, because it was my duty— to the company and the stockholders and our 
employees. But don't expect me to enjoy it. I'm not so sure it was great- 
inventing this complex new Metal, when so many nations are in need of plain 
iron— why, do you know that the People's State of China hasn't even got enough 
nails to put wooden roofs over people's heads?" 

"But . . . but I don't see that that's your fault." 

"Somebody should attend to it. Somebody with the vision to see beyond his 
own pocketbook. No sensitive person these days— when there's so much suffering 
around us— would devote ten years of his life to splashing about with a lot of 
trick metals. You think it's great? Well, it's not any kind of superior 
ability, but just a hide that you couldn't pierce if you poured a ton of his 
own steel over his head! There are many people of much greater ability in the 
world, but you don't read about them in the headlines and you don't run to 
gape at them at grade crossings— because they can't invent non-collapsible 
bridges at a time when the suffering of mankind weighs on their spirit!" 

She was looking at him silently, respectfully, her joyous eagerness toned 
down, her eyes subdued. He felt better. 

He picked up his drink, took a gulp, and chuckled abruptly at a sudden 
recollection . 

"It was funny, though, " he said, his tone easier, livelier, the tone of a 
confidence to a pal. "You should have seen Orren Boyle yesterday, when the 

first flash came through on the radio from Wyatt Junction! He turned green- 
but I mean, green, the color of a fish that's been lying around too long! Do 
you know what he did last night, by way of taking the bad news? Hired himself 
a suite at the Valhalla Hotel— and you know what that is— and the last I heard, 
he was still there today, drinking himself under the table and the beds, with 
a few choice friends of his and half the female population of upper Amsterdam 
Avenue ! " 

"Who is Mr. Boyle?" she asked, stupefied. 

"Oh, a fat slob that's inclined to overreach himself. A smart guy who gets 
too smart at times. You should have seen his face yesterday! I got a kick out 
of that. That— and Dr. Floyd Ferris. That smoothy didn't like it a bit, oh not 
a bit!— the elegant Dr. Ferris of the State Science Institute, the servant of 
the people, with the patent-leather vocabulary— but he carried it off pretty 
well, I must say, only you could see him squirming in every paragraph— I mean, 
that interview he gave out this morning, where he said, 'The country gave 
Rearden that Metal, now we expect him to give the country something in 
return.' That was pretty nifty, considering who's been riding on the gravy 
train and . . . well, considering. That was better than Bertram Scudder— Mr. 
Scudder couldn't think of anything but 'No comment, ' when his fellow 
gentlemen of the press asked him to voice his sentiments. 'No comment ' —from 
Bertram Scudder who's never been known to shut his trap from the day he was 
born, about anything you ask him or don't ask, Abyssinian poetry or the state 
of the ladies' rest rooms in the textile industry! And Dr. Pritchett, the old 
fool, is going around saying that he knows for certain that Rearden didn't 
invent that Metal— because he was told, by an unnamed reliable source, that 
Rearden stole the formula from a penniless inventor whom he murdered!" 

He was chuckling happily. She was listening as to a lecture on higher 
mathematics, grasping nothing, not even the style of the language, a style 
which made the mystery greater, because she was certain that it did not mean- 
coming from him— what it would have meant anywhere else. 

He refilled his glass and drained it, but his gaiety vanished abruptly. 

He slumped into an armchair, facing her, looking up at her from under his 
bald forehead, his eyes blurred. 

"She's coming back tomorrow," he said, with a sound like a chuckle devoid 
of amusement. 


"My sister. My dear sister. Oh, she'll think she's great, won't she?" 
"You dislike your sister, Mr. Taggart?" He made the same sound; its 
meaning was so eloquent that she needed no other answer. "Why?" she asked. 
"Because she thinks she's so good. What right has she to think it? 
What right has anybody to think he's good? Nobody's any good." 
"You don't mean it, Mr. Taggart." 

"I mean, we're only human beings— and what's a human being? A weak, ugly, 
sinful creature, born that way, rotten in his bones— so humility is the one 
virtue he ought to practice. He ought to spend his life on his knees, begging 
to be forgiven for his dirty existence. When a man thinks he's good— that ' s 
when he's rotten. Pride is the worst of all sins, no matter what he's done." 

"But if a man knows that what he's done is good?" 

"Then he ought to apologize for it." 

"To whom?" 

"To those who haven't done it." 
"I ... I don't understand." 

"Of course you don't. It takes years and years of study in the higher 
reaches of the intellect. Have you ever heard of The Metaphysical 
Contradictions of the Universe, by Dr. Simon Pritchett?" She shook her head, 
frightened. "How do you know what's good, anyway? Who knows what's good? Who 
can ever know? There are no absolutes— as Dr. 

Pritchett has proved irrefutably. Nothing is absolute. Everything is a 
matter of opinion. How do you know that that bridge hasn't collapsed? 

You only think it hasn't. How do you know that there's any bridge at all? 

You think that a system of philosophy— such as Dr. Pritchett ' s— is just 
something academic, remote, impractical? But it isn't. Oh, boy, how it 
isn't! " 

"But, Mr. Taggart, the Line you built-" 

"Oh, what's that Line, anyway? It's only a material achievement, is that 
of any importance? Is there any greatness in anything material? 

Only a low animal can gape at that bridge— when there are so many higher 
things in life. But do the higher things ever get recognition? Oh no! Look at 
people. All that hue and cry and front pages about some trick arrangement of 
some scraps of matter. Do they care about any nobler issue? Do they ever give 
front pages to a phenomenon of the spirit? Do they notice or appreciate a 
person of finer sensibility? And you wonder whether it's true that a great 
man is doomed to unhappiness in this depraved world!" He leaned forward, 
staring at her intently. "I'll tell you . . . I'll tell you something . . . 
unhappiness is the hallmark of virtue. If a man is unhappy, really, truly 
unhappy, it means that he is a superior sort of person." 

He saw the puzzled, anxious look of her face. "But, Mr. Taggart, you got 
everything you wanted. Now you have the best railroad in the country, the 
newspapers call you the greatest business executive of the age, they say the 
stock of your company made a fortune for you overnight, you got everything 
you could ask for— aren't you glad of it?" 

In the brief space of his answer, she felt frightened, sensing a sudden 
fear within him. He answered, "No." 

She didn't know why her voice dropped to a whisper. "You'd rather the 
bridge had collapsed?" 

"I haven't said that!" he snapped sharply. Then he shrugged and waved his 
hand in a gesture of contempt. "You don't understand." 

"I'm sorry . . . Oh, I know that I have such an awful lot to learn!" 

"I am talking about a hunger for something much beyond that bridge. 

A hunger that nothing material will ever satisfy." 

"What, Mr. Taggart? What is it you want?" 

"Oh, there you go! The moment you ask, 'What is it?' you're back in the 
crude, material world where everything's got to be tagged and measured. I'm 
speaking of things that can't be named in materialistic words . . . the 
higher realms of the spirit, which man can never reach. . . . 

What's any human achievement, anyway? The earth is only an atom whirling 
in the universe— of what importance is that bridge to the solar system?" 

A sudden, happy look of understanding cleared her eyes. "It's great of 
you, Mr. Taggart, to think that your own achievement isn't good enough for 
you. I guess no matter how far you've gone, you want to go still farther. 
You're ambitious. That's what I admire most: ambition. I mean, doing things, 
not stopping and giving up, but doing. I understand, Mr. Taggart . . . even 
if I don't understand all the big thoughts." 

"You'll learn." 

"Oh, I'll work very hard to learn!" 

Her glance of admiration had not changed. He walked across the room, 
moving in that glance as in a gentle spotlight. He went to refill his glass. 
A mirror hung in the niche behind the portable bar. He caught a glimpse of 
his own figure: the tall body distorted by a sloppy, sagging posture, as if 
in deliberate negation of human grace, the thinning hair, the soft, sullen 
mouth. It struck him suddenly that she did not see him at all: what she saw 
was the heroic figure of a builder, with proudly straight shoulders and wind- 
blown hair. He chuckled aloud, feeling that this was a good joke on her, 

feeling dimly a satisfaction that resembled a sense of victory: the 
superiority of having put something over on her. 

Sipping his drink, he glanced at the door of his bedroom and thought of 
the usual ending for an adventure of this kind. He thought that it would be 
easy: the girl was too awed to resist. He saw the reddish-bronze sparkle of 
her hair— as she sat, head bent, under a light— and a wedge of smooth, glowing 
skin on her shoulder. He looked away. Why bother? 

—he thought . 

The hint of desire that he felt, was no more than a sense of physical 
discomfort. The sharpest impulse in his mind, nagging him to action, was not 
the thought of the girl, but of all the men who would not pass up an 
opportunity of this kind. He admitted to himself that she was a much better 
person than Betty Pope, perhaps the best person ever offered to him. The 
admission left him indifferent. He felt no more than he had felt for Betty 
Pope. He felt nothing. The prospect of experiencing pleasure was not worth 
the effort; he had no desire to experience pleasure. 

"It's getting late," he said. "Where do you live? Let me give you another 
drink and then I'll take you home." 

When he said good-bye to her at the door of a miserable rooming house in a 
slum neighborhood, she hesitated, fighting not to ask a question which she 
desperately wished to ask him, "Will I . . . " she began, and stopped. 


"No, nothing, nothing!" 

He knew that the question was: "Will I see you again?" It gave him 
pleasure not to answer, even though he knew that she would. 

She glanced up at him once more, as if it were perhaps for the last time, 
then said earnestly, her voice low, "Mr. Taggart, I'm very grateful to you, 
because you ... I mean, any other man would have tried to ... I mean, 
that's all he'd want, but you're so much better than that, oh, so much 
better! " 

He leaned closer to her with a faint, interested smile. "Would you have?" 
he asked. 

She drew back from him, in sudden terror at her own words. "Oh, I didn't 
mean it that way!" she gasped. "Oh God, I wasn't hinting or . . . 

or . . ." She blushed furiously, whirled around and ran, vanishing up the 
long, steep stairs of the rooming house. 

He stood on the sidewalk, feeling an odd, heavy, foggy sense of 
satisfaction: feeling as if he had committed an act of virtue— and as if he 
had taken his revenge upon every person who had stood cheering along the 
three-hundred-mile track of the John Gait Line. 

When their train reached Philadelphia, Rearden left her without a word, as 
if the nights of their return journey deserved no acknowledgment in the 
daylight reality of crowded station platforms and moving engines, the reality 
he respected. She went on to New York, alone. But late that evening, the 
doorbell of her apartment rang and Dagny knew that she had expected it. 

He said nothing when he entered, he looked at her, making his silent 
presence more intimate a greeting than words. There was the faint suggestion 
of a contemptuous smile in his face, at once admitting and mocking his 
knowledge of her hours of impatience and his own. He stood in the middle of 
her living room, looking slowly around him; this was her apartment, the one 
place in the city that had been the focus of two years of his torment, as the 
place he could not think about and did, the place he could not enter— and was 
now entering with the casual, unannounced right of an owner. He sat down in 
an armchair, stretching his legs forward— and she stood before him, almost as 
if she needed his permission to sit down and it gave her pleasure to wait. 

"Shall I tell you that you did a magnificent job, building that Line?" 

he asked. She glanced at him in astonishment; he had never paid her open 
compliments of that kind; the admiration in his voice was genuine, but the 
hint of mockery remained in his face, and she felt as if he were speaking to 
some purpose which she could not guess. "I've spent all day answering 
questions about you — and about the Line, the Metal and the future. That, and 
counting the orders for the Metal. 

They're coming in at the rate of thousands of tons an hour. When was it, 
nine months ago?— I couldn't get a single answer anywhere. Today, I had to cut 
off my phone, not to listen to all the people who wanted to speak to me 
personally about their urgent need of Rearden Metal. 

What did you do today?" 

"I don't know. Tried to listen to Eddie's reports— tried to get away from 
people— tried to find the rolling stock to put more trains on the John Gait 
Line, because the schedule I'd planned won't be enough for the business 
that's piled up in just three days." 

"A great many people wanted to see you today, didn't they?" 

"Why. yes." 

"They'd have given anything just for a word with you, wouldn't they?" ' 
"I ... I suppose so." 

"The reporters kept asking me what you were like. A young boy from a local 
sheet kept saying that you were a great woman. He said he'd be afraid to 
speak to you, if he ever had the chance. He's right. That future that they're 
all talking and trembling about— it will be as you made it, because you had 
the courage none of them could conceive of. 

All the roads to wealth that they're scrambling for now, it's your 
strength that broke them open. The strength to stand against everyone. 

The strength to recognize no will but your own." 

She caught the sinking gasp of her breath: she knew his purpose. She stood 
straight, her arms at her sides, her face austere, as if in unflinching 
endurance; she stood under the praise as under a lashing of insults. 

"They kept asking you questions, too, didn't they?" He spoke intently, 
leaning forward. "And they looked at you with admiration. 

They looked, as if you stood on a mountain peak and they could only take 
their hats off to you across the great distance. Didn't they?" 

"Yes," she whispered. 

"They looked as if they knew that one may not approach you or speak in 
your presence or touch a fold of your dress. They knew it and it's true. They 
looked at you with respect, didn't they? They looked up to you?" 

He seized her arm, threw her down on her knees, twisting her body against 
his legs, and bent down to kiss her mouth. She laughed soundlessly, her 
laughter mocking, but her eyes half-closed, veiled with pleasure. 

Hours later, when they lay in bed together, his hand moving over her body, 
he asked suddenly, throwing her back against the curve of his arm, bending 
over her— and she knew, by the intensity of his face, by the sound of a gasp 
somewhere in the quality of his voice, even though his voice was low and 
steady, that the question broke out of him as if it were worn by the hours of 
torture he had spent with it: "Who were the other men that had you?" 

He looked at her as if the question were a sight visualized in every 
detail, a sight he loathed, but would not abandon; she heard the contempt in 
his voice, the hatred, the suffering— and an odd eagerness that did not 
pertain to torture; he had asked the question, holding her body tight against 

She answered evenly, but he saw a dangerous flicker in her eyes, as of a 
warning that she understood him too well. "There was only one other, Hank." 

"When I was seventeen. '1 
"Did it last?" 

"For some years." 
"Who was he?" 

She drew back, lying against his arm; he leaned closer, his face taut; she 
held his eyes. "I won't answer you." 
"Did you love him?" 
"I won't answer." 

"Did you like sleeping with him?" 
"Yes ! " 

The laughter in her eyes made it sound like a slap across his face, the 
laughter of her knowledge that this was the answer he dreaded and wanted. 

He twisted her arms behind her, holding her helpless, her breasts pressed 
against him; she felt the pain ripping through her shoulders, she heard the 
anger in his words and the huskiness of pleasure in his voice: "Who was he?" 

She did not answer, she looked at him, her eyes dark and oddly brilliant, 
and he saw that the shape of her mouth, distorted by pain, was the shape of a 
mocking smile. 

He felt it change to a shape of surrender, under the touch of his lips. 

He held her body as if the violence and the despair of the way he took her 
could wipe his unknown rival out of existence, out of her past, and more: as 
if it could transform any part of her, even the rival, into an instrument of 
his pleasure. He knew, by the eagerness of her movement as her arms seized 
him, that this was the way she wanted to be taken. 

-k -k -k 

The silhouette of a conveyor belt moved against the strips of fire in the 
sky, raising coal to the top of a distant tower, as if an inexhaustible 
number of small black buckets rode out of the earth in a diagonal line across 
the sunset. The harsh, distant clatter kept going through the rattle of the 
chains which a young man in blue overalls was fastening over the machinery, 
securing it to the flatcars lined on the siding of the Quinn Ball Bearing 
Company of Connecticut. 

Mr. Mowen, of the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company across the street, 
stood by, watching. He had stopped to watch, on his way home from his own 
plant. He wore a light overcoat stretched over his short, paunchy figure, and 
a derby hat over his graying, blondish head. 

There was a first touch of September chill in the air. All the gates of 
the Quinn plant buildings stood wide open, while men and cranes moved the 
machinery out; like taking the vital organs and leaving a carcass, thought 
Mr. Mowen. 

"Another one?" asked Mr. Mowen, jerking his thumb at the plant, even 
though he knew the answer. 

"Huh?" asked the young man, who had not noticed him standing there. 
"Another company moving to Colorado?" 
"Uh-huh. " 

"It's the third one from Connecticut in the last two weeks," said Mr. 

Mowen. "And when you look at what's happening in New Jersey, Rhode Island, 
Massachusetts and all along the Atlantic coast . . ." 

The young man was not looking and did not seem to listen. "It's like a 
leaking faucet," said Mr. Mowen, "and all the water's running out to 
Colorado. All the money." The young man flung the chain across and followed 
it deftly, climbing over the big shape covered with canvas. 

"You'd think people would have some feeling for their native state, some 
loyalty . . . But they're running away. I don't know what's happening to 
people . " 

"It's the Bill," said the young man. 
"What Bill?" 

"The Equalization of Opportunity Bill." 
"How do you mean?" 

"I hear Mr. Quinn was making plans a year ago to open a branch in 
Colorado. The Bill knocked that out cold. So now he's made up his mind to 
move there, lock, stock and barrel." 

"I don't see where that makes it right. The Bill was necessary. It's a 
rotten shame— old firms that have been here for generations . . . 

There ought to be a law . . . " 

The young man worked swiftly, competently, as if he enjoyed it. Behind 
him. the conveyor belt kept rising and clattering against the sky. 

Four distant smokestacks stood like flagpoles, with coils of smoke weaving 
slowly about them, like long banners at half-mast in the reddish glow of the 
evening . 

Mr. Mowen had lived with every smokestack of that skyline since the days 
of his father and grandfather. He had seen the conveyor belt from his office 
window for thirty years. That the Quinn Ball Bearing Company should vanish 
from across the street had seemed inconceivable; he had known about Quinn 's 
decision and had not believed it; or rather, he had believed it as he 
believed any words he heard or spoke: as sounds that bore no fixed relation 
to physical reality. Now he knew that it was real. He stood by the flatcars 
on the siding as if he still had a chance to stop them. 

"It isn't right," he said; he was speaking to the skyline at large, but 
the young man above was the only part of it that could hear him. 

"That's not the way it was in my father's time. I'm not a big shot. I 
don't want to fight anybody. What's the matter with the world?" There was no 
answer, "Now you, for instance— are they taking you along to Colorado?" 

"Me? No. I don't work here. I'm just transient labor. Just picked up this 
job helping to lug the stuff out." 

"Well, where are you going to go when they move away?" 

"Haven't any idea." 

"What are you going to do, if more of them move out?" 
"Wait and see." 

Mr. Mowen glanced up dubiously: he could not tell whether the answer was 
intended to apply to him or to the young man. But the young man's attention 
was fixed on his task; he was not looking down. 

He moved on, to the shrouded shapes on the next flatcar, and Mr. 

Mowen followed, looking up at him, pleading with something up in space: 
"I've got rights, haven't I? I was born here. I expected the old companies to 
be here when I grew up. I expected to run the plant like my father did. A man 
is part of his community, he's got a right to count on it, hasn't he? . . . 
Something ought to be done about it." 

"About what?" 

"Oh, I know, you think it's great, don't you?— that Taggart boom and 
Rearden Metal and the gold rush to Colorado and the drunken spree out there, 
with Wyatt and his bunch expanding their production like kettles boiling 
over! Everybody thinks it's great— that ' s all you hear anywhere you go— people 
are slap-happy, making plans like six-year olds on a vacation— you ' d think it 
was a national honeymoon of some kind or a permanent Fourth of July!" 

The young man said nothing. 

"Well, I don't think so," said Mr. Mowen. He lowered his voice. 'The 
newspapers don't say so, either— mind you that— the newspapers aren't saying 
anything . " 

Mr. Mowen heard no answer, only the clanking of the chains. 

"Why are they all running to Colorado?" he asked. "What have they got down 
there that we haven't got?" 

The young man grinned. "Maybe it's something you've got that they haven't 
got. " 

"What?" The young man did not answer. "I don't see it. It's a backward, 
primitive, unenlightened place. They don't even have a modern government. 
It's the worst government in any state. The laziest. It does nothing— outside 
of keeping law courts and a police department. 

It doesn't do anything for the people. It doesn't help anybody. I don't 
see why all our best companies want to run there." 

The young man glanced down at him, but did not answer. 

Mr. Mowen sighed. "Things aren't right," he said. "The Equalization of 
Opportunity Bill was a sound idea. There's got to be a chance for everybody. 
It's a rotten shame if people like Quinn take unfair 

advantage of it. Why didn't he let somebody else start manufacturing ball 
bearings in Colorado? ... I wish the Colorado people would leave us alone. 
That Stockton Foundry out there had no right going into the switch and signal 
business. That's been my business for years, I have the right of seniority, 
it isn't fair, it's dog-eat-dog competition, newcomers shouldn't be allowed 
to muscle in. Where am I going to sell switches and signals? There were two 
big railroads out in Colorado. 

Now the Phoenix-Durango ' s gone, so there's just Taggart Transcontinental 
left. It isn't fair— their forcing Dan Conway out. There's got to be room for 
competition. . . . And I've been waiting six months for an order of steel 
from Orren Boyle— and now he says he can't promise me anything, because 
Rearden Metal has shot his market to hell, there's a run on that Metal, Boyle 
has to retrench. It isn't fair— Rearden being allowed to ruin other people's 
markets that way. . . . And I want to get some Rearden Metal, too, I need it— 
but try and get it! He has a waiting line that would stretch across three 
states— nobody can get a scrap of it, except his old friends, people like 
Wyatt and Danagger and such. It isn't fair. It's discrimination. I'm just as 
good as the next fellow. I'm entitled to my share of that Metal." 

The young man looked up. "I was in Pennsylvania last week," he said. "I 
saw the Rearden mills. There's a place that's busy! They're building four new 
open-hearth furnaces, and they've got six more coming. . . . New furnaces," 
he said, looking off to the south. "Nobody's built a new furnace on the 
Atlantic coast for the last five years. . . ."He stood against the sky, on 
the top of a shrouded motor, looking off at the dusk with a faint smile of 
eagerness and longing, as one looks at the distant vision of one's love. 
"They're busy. . . ."he said. 

Then his smile vanished abruptly; the way he jerked the cru-fin was the 
first break in the smooth competence of his movements: it looked like a jolt 
of anger. 

Mr. Mowen looked at the skyline, at the belts, the wheels, the smoke— the 
smoke that settled heavily, peacefully across the evening air, stretching in 
a long haze all the way to the city of New York somewhere beyond the sunset— 
and he felt reassured by the thought of New York in its ring of sacred fires, 
the ring of smokestacks, gas tanks, cranes and high tension lines. He felt a 
current of power flowing through every grimy structure of his familiar 
street; he liked the figure of the young man above him, there was something 
reassuring in the way he worked, something that blended with the skyline. . . 
. Yet Mr. Mowen wondered why he felt that a crack was growing somewhere, 
eating through the solid, the eternal walls. 

"Something ought to be done," said Mr. Mowen. "A friend of mine went out 
of business last week— the oil business— had a couple of wells down in 
Oklahoma— couldn ' t compete with Ellis Wyatt. It isn't fair. They ought to 
leave the little people a chance. They ought to place a limit on Wyatt ' s 
output. He shouldn't be allowed to produce so much that he'll swamp everybody 
else off the market. ... I got stuck in New York yesterday, had to leave my 
car there and come home on a damn commuters ' 1 local, couldn't get any gas for 

the car, they said there's a shortage of oil in the city. . . . Things aren't 
right. Something ought to be done about it. . . ." 

Looking at the skyline, Mr. Mowen wondered what was the nameless threat to 
it and who was its destroyer. 

"What do you want to do about it?" asked the young man. 

"Who, me?" said Mr. Mowen. "I wouldn't know. I'm not a big shot. 

I can't solve national problems. I just want to make a living. All I know 
is, somebody ought to do something about it. . . . Things aren't right. . . . 
Listen— what ' s your name?" 

"Owen Kellogg." 

"Listen, Kellogg, what do you think is going to happen to the world?" 
"You wouldn't care to know." 

A whistle blew on a distant tower, the night-shift whistle, and Mr. 
Mowen realized that it was getting late. He sighed, buttoning his coat, 
turning to go. 

"Well, things are being done," he said. "Steps are being taken. 
Constructive steps. The Legislature has passed a Bill giving wider powers to 
the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources. They've appointed a 
very able man as Top Co-ordinator . Can't say I've heard of him before, but 
the newspapers said he's a man to be watched. His name is Wesley Mouch." 

Dagny stood at the window of her living room, looking at the city. 

It was late and the lights were like the last sparks left glittering on 
the black remnants of a bonfire. 

She felt at peace, and she wished she could hold her mind still to let her 
own emotions catch up with her, to look at every moment of the month that had 
rushed past her. She had had no time to feel that she was back in her own 
office at Taggart Transcontinental; there had been so much to do that she 
forgot it was a return from exile. She had not noticed what Jim had said on 
her return or whether he had said anything. There had been only one person 
whose reaction she had wanted to know; she had telephoned the Wayne-Falkland 
Hotel; but Senor Francisco d'Anconia, she was told, had gone back to Buenos 
Aires . 

She remembered the moment when she signed her name at the bottom of a long 
legal page; it was the moment that ended the John Gait Line. Now it was the 
Rio Norte Line of Taggart Transcontinental again— except that the men of the 
train crews refused to give up its name. She, too, found it hard to give up; 
she forced herself not to call it "the John Gait, " and wondered why that 
required an effort, and why she felt a faint wrench of sadness. 

One evening, on a sudden impulse, she had turned the corner of the Taggart 
Building, for a last look at the office of John Gait, Inc., in the alley; she 
did not know what she wanted— just to see it, she thought. 

A plank barrier had been raised along the sidewalk: the old building was 
being demolished; it had given up, at last. She had climbed over the planks 
and, by the light of the street lamp that had once thrown a stranger's shadow 
across the pavement, she had looked in through the window of her former 
office. Nothing was left of the ground floor; the partitions had been torn 
down, there were broken pipes hanging from the ceiling and a pile of rubble 
on the floor. There was nothing to see. 

She had asked Rearden whether he had come there one night last spring and 
stood outside her window, fighting his desire to enter. But she had known, 
even before he answered, that he had not. She did not tell him why she asked 
it. She did not know why that memory still disturbed her at times. 

Beyond the window of her living room, the lighted rectangle of the 
calendar hung like a small shipping tag in the black sky. It read: September 
2. She smiled defiantly, remembering the race she had run against its 
changing pages; there were no deadlines now, she thought, no barriers, no 
threats, no limits. 

She heard a key turning in the door of her apartment; this was the sound 
she had waited for, had wanted to hear tonight. 

Rearden came in, as he had come many times, using the key she had given 
him, as sole announcement. He threw his hat and coat down on a chair with a 
gesture that had become familiar; he wore the formal black of dinner clothes. 

"Hello," she said. 

"I'm still waiting for the evening when I won't find you in," he answered, 
"Then you'll have to phone the offices of Taggart Transcontinental." 
"Any evening? Nowhere else?" 
"Jealous, Hank?" 

"No. Curious what it would feel like, to be." 

He stood looking at her across the room, refusing to let himself approach 
her, deliberately prolonging the pleasure of knowing that he could do it 
whenever he wished. She wore the tight gray skirt of an office suit and a 
blouse of transparent white cloth tailored like a man's shirt; the blouse 
flared out above her waistline, stressing the trim flatness of her hips; 
against the glow of a lamp behind her, he could see the slender silhouette of 
her body within the flaring circle of the blouse. 

"How was the banquet?" she asked. 

"Fine. I escaped as soon as I could. Why didn't you come? You were 
invited . " 

"I didn't want to see you in public." 

He glanced at her, as if stressing that he noted the full meaning of her 
answer; then the lines of his face moved to the hint of an amused smile. "You 
missed a lot. The National Council of Metal Industries won't put itself again 
through the ordeal of having me for guest of honor. 

Not if they can help it." 

"What happened?" 

"Nothing. Just a lot of speeches." 
"Was it an ordeal for you?" 

"No . . . Yes, in a way ... I had really wanted to enjoy it." 
"Shall I get you a drink?" 
"Yes, will you?" 

She turned to go. He stopped her, grasping her shoulders from behind; he 
bent her head back and kissed her mouth. When he raised his head, she pulled 
it down again with a demanding gesture of ownership, as if stressing her 
right to do it. Then she stepped away from him. 

"Never mind the drink," he said, "I didn't really want it— except for 
seeing you wait on me." 

"Well, then, let me wait on you." 

"No . " 

He smiled, stretching himself out on the couch, his hands crossed under 
his head. He felt at home; it was the first home he had ever found. 

"You know, the worst part of the banquet was that the only wish of every 
person present was to get it over with," he said. "What I can't understand is 
why they wanted to do it at all. They didn't have to. Certainly not for my 
sake . " 

She picked up a cigarette box, extended it to him, then held the flame of 
a lighter to the tip of his cigarette, in the deliberate manner of waiting on 
him. She smiled in answer to his chuckle, then sat down on the arm of a chair 
across the room. 

"Why did you accept their invitation, Hank?" she asked. "You've always 
refused to join them." 

"I didn't want to refuse a peace offer— when I've beaten them and they know 
it. I'll never join them, but an invitation to appear as a guest of honor- 
well, I thought they were good losers. I thought it was generous of them." 

"Of them?" 

"Are you going to say: of me?" 

"Hank! After all the things they've done to stop you—" 

"I won, didn't I? So I thought . . . You know, I didn't hold it against 
them that they couldn't see the value of the Metal sooner— so long as they saw 
it at last. Every man learns in his own way and time. 

Sure, I knew there was a lot of cowardice there, and envy and hypocrisy, 
but I thought that that was only the surface— now, when I've proved my case, 
when I've proved it so loudly!— I thought their real motive for inviting me 
was their appreciation of the Metal, and—" 

She smiled in the brief space of his pause; she knew the sentence he had 
stopped himself from uttering: " and for that, I would forgive anyone 
anything . " 

"But it wasn't," he said. "And I couldn't figure out what their motive 
was. Dagny, I don't think they had any motive at all. They didn't give that 
banquet to please me, or to gain something from me, or to save face with the 
public. There was no purpose of any kind about it, no meaning. They didn't 
really care when they denounced the Metal— and they don't care now. They're 
not really afraid that I'll drive them all off the market— they don't care 
enough even about that. Do you know what that banquet was like? It's as if 
they'd heard that there are values one is supposed to honor and this is what 
one does to honor them— so they went through the motions, like ghosts pulled 
by some sort of distant echoes from a better age. I ... I couldn't stand 
it. " 

She said, her face tight, "And you don't think you're generous!" 
He glanced up at her; his eyes brightened to a look of amusement. 
"Why do they make you so angry?" 

She said, her voice low to hide the sound of tenderness, "You wanted to 
enjoy it . . . " 

"It probably serves me right. I shouldn't have expected anything. 1 
don't know what it was that I wanted." 
"I do." 

"I've never liked occasions of that sort. I don't see why I expected it to 
be different, this time. . . . You know, I went there feeling almost as if 
the Metal had changed everything, even people." 

"Oh yes, Hank, I know!" 

"Well, it was the wrong place to seek anything. ... Do you remember? You 
said once that celebrations should be only for those who have something to 
celebrate . " 

The dot of her lighted cigarette stopped in mid-air; she sat still. She 
had never spoken to him of that party or of anything related to his home. In 
a moment., she answered quietly, "I remember." 

"1 know what you meant ... I knew it then, too." 

He was looking straight at her. She lowered her eyes. 

He remained silent; when he spoke again, his voice was gay. "The worst 
thing about people is not the insults they hand out, but the compliments. I 
couldn't bear the kind they spouted tonight, particularly when they kept 
saying how much everybody needs me— they, the city, the country and the whole 
world, I guess. Apparently, their idea of the height of glory is to deal with 
people who need them. I can't stand people who need me." He glanced at her. 
"Do you need me?" 

She answered, her voice earnest, "Desperately." 

He laughed. "No. Not the way I meant. You didn't say it the way they do." 
"How did I say it?" 

"Like a trader— who pays for what he wants. They say it like beggars who 
use a tin cup as a claim check." 
"I . . . pay for it, Hank?" 

"Don't look innocent. You know exactly what I mean." 

"Yes," she whispered; she was smiling. 

"Oh, to hell with them!" he said happily, stretching his legs, shifting 
the position of his body on the couch, stressing the luxury of relaxation. 
"I'm no good as a public figure. Anyway, it doesn't matter now. 

We don't have to care what they see or don't see. They'll leave us alone. 
It's clear track ahead. What's the next undertaking, Mr. Vice-President?" 

"A transcontinental track of Rearden Metal." 

"How soon do you want it?" 

"Tomorrow morning. Three years from now is when I'll get it." 
"Think you can do it in three years?" 

"If the John Gait ... if the Rio Norte Line does as well as it's doing 
now . " 

"It's going to do better. That's only the beginning." 

"I have an installment plan made out. As the money comes in, I'm going to 
start tearing up the main track, one division at a time, and replacing it 
with Rearden Metal rail." 

"Okay. Any time you wish to start." 

"I'll keep moving the old rail to the branch lines— they won't last much 
longer, if I don't. In three years, you'll ride on your own Metal into San 
Francisco, if somebody wants to give you a banquet there." 

"In three years, I'll have mills pouring Rearden Metal in Colorado, in 
Michigan and in Idaho. That's my installment plan." 

"Your own mills? Branches?" 

"Uh-huh. " 

"What about the Equalization of Opportunity Bill?" 

"You don't think it's going to exist three years from now, do you? 

We've given them such a demonstration that all that rot is going to be 
swept away. The whole country is with us. Who'll want to stop things now? 
Who'll listen to the bilge? There's a lobby of the better kind of men working 
In Washington right this moment. They're going to get the Equalization Bill 
scrapped at the next session." 

"I . . .1 hope so." 

"I've had a terrible time, these last few weeks, getting the new furnaces 
started, but it's all set now, they're being built, I can sit back and take 
it easy. I can sit at my desk, rake in the money, loaf like a bum, watch the 
orders for the Metal pouring in and play favorites ail over the place. . . . 
Say, what's the first train you've got for Philadelphia tomorrow morning?" 

"Oh, I don't know." 

"You don't? What's the use of an Operating Vice-president? I have to be at 
the mills by seven tomorrow. Got anything running around six?" 
"Five-thirty A.M. is the first one, I think." 

"Will you wake me up in time to make it or would you rather order the 
train held for me?" 
"I'll wake you up." 
"Ok" . 

She sat, watching him as he remained silent. He had looked tired when he 
came in; the lines of exhaustion were gone from his face now. 

"Dagny, " he asked suddenly; his tone had changed, there was some hidden, 
earnest note in his voice, "why didn't you want to see me in public?" 

"I don't want to be part of your . . . official life." 

He did not answer; in a moment, he asked casually, "When did you take a 
vacation last?" 

"I think it was two . . . no, three years ago." 
"What did you do?" 

"Went to the Adirondacks for a month. Came back in a week." 
"I did that five years ago. Only it was Oregon." He lay flat on his back, 
looking at the ceiling. "Dagny, let's take a vacation together. Let's take my 

car and drive away for a few weeks, anywhere, just drive, down the back 
roads, where no one knows us. We'll leave no address, we won't look at a 
newspaper, we won't touch a phone— we won't have any official life at all." 

She got up. She approached him, she stood by the side of the couch, 
looking down at him, the light of the lamp behind her; she did not want him 
to see her face and the effort she was making not to smile. 

"You can take a few weeks off. can't you?" he said. "Things are set and 
going now. It's safe. We won't have another chance in the next three years." 

"All right, Hank," she said, forcing her voice to sound calmly toneless. 

"Will you?" 

"When do you want to start?" 
"Monday morning." 
"All right." 

She turned to step away. He seized her wrist, pulled her down, swung her 
body to lie stretched full-length on top of him, he held her still, 
uncomfortably, as she had fallen, his one hand in her hair, pressing her 
mouth to his, his other hand moving from the shoulder blades under her thin 
blouse to her waist, to her legs. She whispered, "And you say I don't need 
you . . . ! " 

She pulled herself away from him, and stood up, brushing her hair off her 
face. He lay still, looking up at her, his eyes narrowed, the bright flicker 
of some particular interest in his eyes, intent and faintly mocking. She 
glanced down: a strap of her slip had broken, the slip hung diagonally from 
her one shoulder to her side, and he was looking at her breast under the 
transparent film of the blouse. She raised her hand to adjust the strap. He 
slapped her hand down. She smiled, in understanding, in answering mockery. 
She walked slowly, deliberately across the room and leaned against a table, 
facing him, her hands holding the table's edge, her shoulders thrown back. It 
was the contrast he liked— the severity of her clothes and the half-naked 
body, the railroad executive who was a woman he owned. 

He sat up; he sat leaning comfortably across the couch, his legs crossed 
and stretched forward, his hands in his pockets, looking at her with the 
glance of a property appraisal. 

"Did you say you wanted a transcontinental track of Rearden Metal, Mr. 
Vice-President?" he asked. "What if I don't give it to you? I can choose my 
customers now and demand any price I please. If this were a year ago, I would 
have demanded that you sleep with me in exchange." 

"I wish you had." 

"Would you have done it?" 

"Of course . " 

"As a matter of business? As a sale?" 

"If you were the buyer. You would have liked that, wouldn't you?" 
"Would you?" 

"Yes . . ." she whispered. 

He approached her, he grasped her shoulders and pressed his mouth to her 
breast through the thin cloth. 

Then, holding her, he looked at her silently for a long moment. 
"What did you do with that bracelet?" he asked. 

They had never referred to it; she had to let a moment pass to regain the 
steadiness of her voice. "I have it," she answered. 
"I want you to wear it." 

"If anyone guesses, it will be worse for you than for me." 
"Wear it." 

She brought out the bracelet of Rearden Metal. She extended it to him 
without a word, looking straight at him, the green-blue chain glittering 
across her palm. Holding her glance, he clasped the bracelet on her wrist. In 

the moment when the clasp clicked shut under his fingers, she bent her head 
down to them and kissed his hand. 

The earth went flowing under the hood of the car. Uncoiling from among the 
curves of Wisconsin's hills, the highway was the only evidence of human 
labor, a precarious bridge stretched across a sea of brush, weeds and trees. 
The sea rolled softly, in sprays of yellow and orange, with a few red jets 
shooting up on the hillsides, with pools of remnant green in the hollows, 
under a pure blue sky. Among the colors of a picture post card, the car's 
hood looked like the work of a jeweler, with the sun sparkling on its 
chromium steel, and its black enamel reflecting the sky. 

Dagny leaned against the corner of the side window, her legs stretched 
forward; she liked the wide, comfortable space of the car's seat and the 
warmth of the sun on her shoulders; she thought that the countryside was 
beautiful . 

"What I'd like to see," said Rearden, "is a billboard," 

She laughed: he had answered her silent thought. "Selling what and to 
whom? We haven't seen a car or a house for an hour." 

"That's what I don't like about it." He bent forward a little, his hands 
on the wheel; he was frowning. "Look at that road." 

The long strip of concrete was bleached to the powdery gray of bones left 
on a desert, as if sun and snows had eaten away the traces of tires, oil and 
carbon, the lustrous polish of motion. Green weeds rose from the angular 
cracks of the concrete. No one had used the road or repaired it for many 
years; but the cracks were few. 

"It's a good road," said Rearden. "It was built to last. The man who built 
it must have had a good reason for expecting it to carry a heavy traffic in 
the years ahead." 

"Yes ..." 

"I don't like the looks of this." 

"I don't either." Then she smiled. "But think how often we've heard people 
complain that billboards ruin the appearance of the countryside. 

Well, there's the unruined countryside for them to admire." She added, 
"They're the people I hate." 

She did not want to feel the uneasiness which she felt like a thin crack 
under her enjoyment of this day. She had felt that uneasiness at times, in 
the last three weeks, at the sight of the country streaming past the wedge of 
the car's hood. She smiled: it was the hood that had been the immovable point 
in her field of vision, while the earth had gone by, it was the hood that had 
been the center, the focus, the security in a blurred, dissolving world . . . 
the hood before her and Rearden 's hands on the wheel by her side . . . she 
smiled, thinking that she was satisfied to let this be the shape of her 
world . 

After the first week of their wandering, when they had driven at random, 
at the mercy of unknown crossroads, he had said to her one morning as they 
started out, "Dagny, does resting have to be purposeless?" She had laughed, 
answering, "No. What factory do you want to see?" He had smiled— at the guilt 
he did not have to assume, at the explanations he did not have to give— and he 
had answered, "It's an abandoned ore mine around Saginaw Bay, that I've heard 
about. They say it's exhausted." 

They had driven across Michigan to the ore mine. They had walked through 
the ledges of an empty pit, with the remnants of a crane like a skeleton 
bending above them against the sky, and someone's rusted lunchbox clattering 
away from under their feet. She had felt a stab of uneasiness, sharper than 
sadness— but Rearden had said cheerfully, "Exhausted, hell! I'll show them how 
many tons and dollars I can draw out of this place!" On their way back to the 
car, he had said, "If I could find the right man, I'd buy that mine for him 
tomorrow morning and set him up to work it." 

The next day, when they were driving west and south, toward the plains of 
Illinois, he had said suddenly, after a long silence, "No, I'll have to wait 
till they junk the Bill. The man who could work that mine, wouldn't need me 
to teach him. The man who'd need me, wouldn't be worth a damn." 

They could speak of their work, as they always had, with full confidence 
in being understood. But they never spoke of each other. He acted as if their 
passionate intimacy were a nameless physical fact, not to be identified in 
the communication between two minds. Each night, it was as if she lay in the 
arms of a stranger who let her see every shudder of sensation that ran 
through his body, but would never permit her to know whether the shocks 
reached any answering tremor within him. She lay naked at his side, but on 
her wrist there was the bracelet of Rearden Metal. 

She knew that he hated the ordeal of signing the "Mr. and Mrs. 

Smith" on the registers of squalid roadside hotels. There were evenings 
when she noticed the faint contraction of anger in the tightness of his 
mouth, as he signed the expected names of the expected fraud, anger at those 
who made fraud necessary. She noticed, indifferently, the air of knowing 
slyness in the manner of the hotel clerks, which seemed to suggest that 
guests and clerks alike were accomplices in a shameful guilt: the guilt of 
seeking pleasure. But she knew that it did not matter to him when they were 
alone, when he held her against him for a moment and she saw his eyes look 
alive and guiltless. 

They drove through small towns, through obscure side roads, through the 
kind of places they had not seen for years. She felt uneasiness at the sight 
of the towns. Days passed before she realized what it was that she missed 
most: a glimpse of fresh paint. The houses stood like men in unpressed suits, 
who had lost the desire to stand straight: the cornices were like sagging 
shoulders, the crooked porch steps like torn hem lines, the broken windows 
like patches, mended with clapboard. The people in the streets stared at the 
new car, not as one stares at a rare sight, but as if the glittering black 
shape were an impossible vision from another world. There were few vehicles 
in the streets and too many of them were horse-drawn. She had forgotten the 
literal shape and usage of horsepower; she did not like to see its return. 

She did not laugh, that day at the grade crossing, when Rearden chuckled, 
pointing, and she saw the train of a small local railroad come tottering from 
behind a hill, drawn by an ancient locomotive that coughed black smoke 
through a tall stack. 

"Oh God, Hank, it's not funny!" 

"I know," he said. 

They were seventy miles and an hour away from it, when she said, "Hank, do 
you see the Taggart Comet being pulled across the continent by a coal-burner 
of that kind?" 

"What's the matter with you? Pull yourself together." 

"I'm sorry . . . It's just that I keep thinking it won't be any use, all 
my new track and all your new furnaces, if we don't find someone able to 
produce Diesel engines. If we don't find him fast," 

"Ted Nielsen of Colorado is your man." 

"Yes, if he finds a way to open his new plant. He's sunk more money than 
he should into the bonds of the John Gait Line." 

"That's turned out to be a pretty profitable investment, hasn't it?" 

"Yes, but it's held him up. Now he's ready to go ahead, but he can't find 
the tools. There are no machine tools to buy, not anywhere, not at any price. 
He's getting nothing but promises and delays. He's combing the country, 
looking for old junk to reclaim, from closed factories. If he doesn't start 

"He will. Who's going to stop him now?" 

"Hank," she said suddenly, "could we go to a place I'd like to see?" 

"Sure, Anywhere. Which place?" 

"It's in Wisconsin. There used to be a great motor company there, in my 
father's time. We had a branch line serving it, but we closed the line— about 
seven years ago— when they closed the factory. I think it's one of those 
blighted areas now. Maybe there's still some machinery left there that Ted 
Nielsen could use. It might have been overlooked— the place is forgotten and 
there's no transportation to it at all." 

"I'll find it. What was the name of the factory?" 

"The Twentieth Century Motor Company." 

"Oh, of course! That was one of the best motor firms in my youth, perhaps 
the best. I seem to remember that there was something odd about the way it 
went out of business . . . can't recall what it was. '1 

It took them three days of inquiries, but they found the bleached, 
abandoned road— and now they were driving through the yellow leaves that 
glittered like a sea of gold coins, to the Twentieth Century Motor Company. 

"Hank, what if anything happens to Ted Nielsen?" she asked suddenly, as 
they drove in silence. 

"Why should anything happen to him?" 

"I don't know, but . . . well, there was Dwight Sanders. He vanished. 
United Locomotives is done for now. And the other plants are in no condition 
to produce Diesels. I've stopped listening to promises. And . . . and of what 
use is a railroad without motive power?" 

"Of what use is anything, for that matter, without it?" 

The leaves sparkled, swaying in the wind. They spread for miles, from 
grass to brush to trees, with the motion and all the colors of fire; they 
seemed to celebrate an accomplished purpose, burning in unchecked, untouched 
abundance . 

Rearden smiled. "There's something to be said for the wilderness. 

I'm beginning to like it. New country that nobody's discovered." She 
nodded gaily. "It's good soil— look at the way things grow. I'd clear that 
brush and I'd build a—" 

And then they stopped smiling. The corpse they saw in the weeds by the 
roadside was a rusty cylinder with bits of glass— the remnant of a gas-station 
pump . 

It was the only thing left visible. The few charred posts, the slab of 
concrete and the sparkle of glass dust— which had been a gas station- 
were swallowed in the brush, not to be noticed except by a careful glance, 
not to be seen at all in another year. 

They looked away. They drove on, not wanting to know what else lay hidden 
under the miles of weeds. They felt the same wonder like a weight in the 
silence between them: wonder as to how much the weeds had swallowed and how 
fast . 

The road ended abruptly behind the turn of a hill. What remained was a few 
chunks of concrete sticking out of a long, pitted stretch of tar and mud. The 
concrete had been smashed by someone and carted away; even weeds could not 
grow in the strip of earth left behind. On the crest of a distant hill, a 
single telegraph pole stood slanted against the sky, like a cross over a vast 
grave . 

It took them three hours and a punctured tire to crawl in low gear through 
trackless soft, through gullies, then down ruts left by cart wheels— to reach 
the settlement that lay in the valley beyond the hill with the telegraph 
pole . 

A few houses still stood within the skeleton of what had once been an 
industrial town. Everything that could move, had moved away; but some human 
beings had remained. The empty structures were vertical rubble; they had been 
eaten, not by time, but by men: boards torn out at random, missing patches of 
roofs, holes left in gutted cellars. It looked as if blind hands had seized 

whatever fitted the need of the moment, with no concept of remaining in 
existence the next morning. 

The inhabited houses were scattered at random among the ruins; the smoke 
of their chimneys was the only movement visible in town. A shell of concrete, 
which had been a schoolhouse, stood on the outskirts; it looked like a skull, 
with the empty sockets of glassless windows, with a few strands of hair still 
clinging to it, in the shape of broken wires. 

Beyond the town, on a distant hill, stood the factory of the Twentieth 
Century Motor Company. Its walls, roof lines and smokestacks looked trim, 
impregnable like a fortress. It would have seemed intact but for a silver 
water tank: the water tank was tipped sidewise. 

They saw no trace of a road to the factory in the tangled miles of trees 
and hillsides. They drove to the door of the first house in sight that showed 
a feeble signal of rising smoke. The door was open. An old woman came 
shuffling out at the sound of the motor. She was bent and swollen, 
barefooted, dressed in a garment of flour sacking. She looked at the car 
without astonishment, without curiosity; it was the blank stare of a being 
who had lost the capacity to feel anything but exhaustion. 

"Can you tell me the way to the factory?" asked Rearden. 

The woman did not answer at once; she looked as if she would be unable to 
speak English. "What factory?" she asked. 
Rearden pointed. "That one." 
"It's closed." 

"I know it's closed. But is there any way to get there?" 

" I don ' t know . " 

"Is there any sort of road?" 

"There's roads in the woods." 

"Any for a car to drive through?" 

"Maybe . " 

"Well, which would be the best road to take?" 
"I don't know." 

Through the open door, they could see the interior of her house. 

There was a useless gas stove, its oven stuffed with rags, serving as a 
chest of drawers. There was a stove built of stones in a corner, with a few 
logs burning under an old kettle, and long streaks of soot rising up the 
wall. A white object lay propped against the legs of a table: it was a 
porcelain washbowl, torn from the wall of some bathroom, filled with wilted 
cabbages. A tallow candle stood in a bottle on the table. There was no paint 
left on the floor; its boards were scrubbed to a soggy gray that looked like 
the visual expression of the pain in the bones of the person who had bent and 
scrubbed and lost the battle against the grime now soaked into the grain of 
the boards . 

A brood of ragged children had gathered at the door behind the woman, 
silently, one by one. They stared at the car, not with the bright curiosity 
of children, but with the tension of savages ready to vanish at the first 
sign of danger. 

"How many miles is it to the factory?" asked Rearden. 

"Ten miles," said the woman, and added, "Maybe five." 

"How far is the next town?" 

"There ain't any next town." 

"There are other towns somewhere. I mean, how far?" 
"Yeah. Somewhere." 

In the vacant space by the side of the house, they saw faded rags hanging 
on a clothesline, which was a piece of telegraph wire. Three chickens pecked 
among the beds of a scraggly vegetable garden; a fourth sat roosting on a bar 
which was a length of plumber's pipe. Two pigs waddled in a stretch of mud 

and refuse; the stepping stones laid across the muck were pieces of the 
highway's concrete. 

They heard a screeching sound in the distance and saw a man drawing water 
from a public well by means of a rope pulley. They watched him as he came 
slowly down the street. He carried two buckets that seemed too heavy for his 
thin arms. One could not tell his age. 

He approached and stopped, looking at the car. His eyes darted at the 
strangers, then away, suspicious and furtive. 

Rearden took out a ten-dollar bill and extended it to him, asking, "Would 
you please tell us the way to the factory?" 

The man stared at the money with sullen indifference, not moving, not 
lifting a hand for it, still clutching the two buckets. If one were ever to 
see a man devoid of greed, thought Dagny, there he was. 

"We don't need no money around here," he said. 

"Don't you work for a living?" 

"Yeah. " 

"Well, what do you use for money?" 

The man put the buckets down, as if it had just occurred to him that he 
did not have to stand straining under their weight. "We don't use no money," 
he said. "We just trade things amongst us." 

"How do you trade with people from other towns?" 

"We don't go to no other towns." 

"You don't seem to have it easy here." 

"What's that to you?" 

"Nothing. Just curiosity. Why do you people stay here?" 

"My old man used to have a grocery store here. Only the factory closed." 
"Why didn't you move?" 
"Where to?" 
"Anywhere . " 
"What for?" 

Dagny was staring at the two buckets: 
handles; they had been oil cans. 

"Listen," said Rearden, "can you tell us whether there' 

"There's plenty of roads." 

"Is there one that a car can take?" 

"I guess so." 

"Which one?" 

The man weighed the problem earnestly for some moments, 
turn to the left by the schoolhouse, " he said, "and go on til you come to the 
crooked oak, there's a road up there that's fine when it don't rain for a 
couple of weeks." 

"When did it rain last?" 

"Yesterday . " 

"Is there another road?" 

"Well, you could go through Hanson's pasture and across the woods and then 
there's a good, solid road there, all the way down to the creek." 
"Is there a bridge across the creek?" 
"No. " 

"What are the other roads?" 

"Well, if it's a car road that you want, there's one the other side of 
Miller's patch, it's paved, it's the best road for a car, you just turn to 
the right by the schoolhouse and—" 

"But that road doesn't go to the factory, does it?" 

"No, not to the factory." 

"All right," said Rearden. "Guess we'll find our own way." 

they were square tins with rope 
s a road to the 

"Well, now, if you 

He had pressed the starter, when a rock came smashing into the windshield. 
The glass was shatterproof, but a sunburst of cracks spread across it. They 
saw a ragged little hoodlum vanishing behind a corner with a scream of 
laughter, and they heard the shrill laughter of children answering him from 
behind some windows or crevices. 

Rearden suppressed a swear word. The man looked vapidly across the street, 
frowning a little. The old woman looked on, without reaction. She had stood 
there silently, watching, without interest or purpose, like a chemical 
compound on a photographic plate, absorbing visual shapes because they were 
there to be absorbed, but unable ever to form any estimate of the objects of 
her vision. 

Dagny had been studying her for some minutes. The swollen shapelessness of 
the woman's body did not look like the product of age and neglect: it looked 
as if she was pregnant. This seemed impossible, but glancing closer Dagny saw 
that her dust-colored hair was not gray and that there were few wrinkles on 
her face; it was only the vacant eyes, the stooped shoulders, the shuffling 
movements that gave her the stamp of senility. 

Dagny leaned out and asked, "How old are you?" 

The woman looked at her, not in resentment, but merely as one looks at a 
pointless question. "Thirty-seven," she answered. 

They had driven five former blocks away, when Dagny spoke. 

"Hank, " she said in terror, "that woman is only two years older than I ! " 

"Yes . " 

"God, how did they ever come to such a state?" 
He shrugged. "Who is John Gait?" 

The last thing they saw, as they left the town, was a billboard. A design 
was still visible on its peeling strips, imprinted in the dead gray that had 
once been color. It advertised a washing machine. 

In a distant field, beyond the town, they saw the figure of a man moving 
slowly, contorted by the ugliness of a physical effort beyond the proper use 
of a human body: he was pushing a plow by hand. 

They reached the factory of the Twentieth Century Motor Company two miles 
and two hours later. They knew, as they climbed the hill, that their quest 
was useless. A rusted padlock hung on the door of the main entrance, but the 
huge windows were shattered and the place was open to anyone, to the 
woodchucks, the rabbits and the dried leaves that lay in drifts inside. 

The factory had been gutted long ago. The great pieces of machinery had 
been moved out by some civilized means— the neat holes of their bases still 
remained in the concrete of the floor. The rest had gone to random looters. 
There was nothing left, except refuse which the neediest tramp had found 
worthless, piles of twisted, rusted scraps, of boards, plaster and glass 
splinters— and the steel stairways, built to last and lasting, rising in trim 
spirals to the roof. 

They stopped in the great hall where a ray of light fell diagonally from a 
gap in the ceiling, and the echoes of their steps rang around them, dying far 
away in rows of empty rooms. A bird darted from among the steel rafters and 
went in a hissing streak of wings out into the sky, "We'd better look through 
it, just in case," said Dagny. "You take the shops and I'll take the annexes. 
Let's do it as fast as possible." 

"I don't like to let you wander around alone. I don't know how safe they 
are, any of those floors or stairways." 

"Oh, nonsense! I can find my way around a factory— or in a wrecking crew. 
Let's get it over with. I want to get out of here." 

When she walked through the silent yards— where steel bridges still hung 
overhead, tracing lines of geometrical perfection across the sky —her only 
wish was not to see any of it, but she forced herself to look. 

It was like having to perform an autopsy on the body of one's love. She 
moved her glance as an automatic searchlight, her teeth clamped tight 
together. She walked rapidly— there was no necessity to pause anywhere. 

It was in a room of what had been the laboratory that she stopped. It was 
a coil of wire that made her stop. The coil protruded from a pile of junk. 
She had never seen that particular arrangement of wires, yet it seemed 
familiar, as if it touched the hint of some memory, faint and very distant. 
She reached for the coil, but could not move it: it seemed to be part of some 
object buried in the pile. 

The room looked as if it had been an experimental laboratory— if she was 
right in judging the purpose of the torn remnants she saw on the walls: a 
great many electrical outlets, bits of heavy cable, lead conduits, glass 
tubing, built-in cabinets without shelves or doors. There was a great deal of 
glass, rubber, plastic and metal in the junk pile, and dark gray splinters of 
slate that had been a blackboard. Scraps of paper rustled dryly all over the 
floor. There were also remnants of things which had not been brought here by 
the owner of that room: popcorn wrappers, a whiskey bottle, a confession 
magazine . 

She attempted to extricate the coil from the scrap pile. It would not 
move; it was part of some large object. She knelt and began to dig through 
the junk. 

She had cut her hands, she was covered with dust by the time she stood up 
to look at the object she had cleared. It was the broken remnant of the model 
of a motor. Most of its parts were missing, but enough was left to convey 
some idea of its former shape and purpose. 

She had never seen a motor of this kind or anything resembling it. 

She could not understand the peculiar design of its parts or the functions 
they were intended to perform. 

She examined the tarnished tubes and odd-shaped connections. She tried to 
guess their purpose, her mind going over every type of motor she knew and 
every possible kind of work its parts could perform. 

None fitted the model. It looked like an electric motor, but she could not 
tell what fuel it was intended to burn. It was not designed for steam, or 
oil, or anything she could name. 

Her sudden gasp was not a sound, but a jolt that threw her at the junk 
pile. She was on her hands and knees, crawling over the wreckage, seizing 
every piece of paper in sight, flinging it away, searching further. Her hands 
were shaking. 

She found part of what she hoped had remained in existence. It was a thin 
sheaf of typewritten pages clamped together— the remnant of a manuscript. Its 
beginning and end were gone; the bits of paper left under the clamp showed 
the thick number of pages it had once contained. The paper was yellowed and 
dry. The manuscript had been a description of the motor. 

From the empty enclosure of the plant's powerhouse, Rearden heard her 
voice screaming, "Hank!" It sounded like a scream of terror. 

He ran in the direction of the voice. He found her standing in the middle 
of a room, her hands bleeding, her stockings torn, her suit smeared with 
dust, a bunch of papers clutched in her hand. 

"Hank, what does this look like?" she asked, pointing at an odd piece of 
wreckage at her feet; her voice had the intense, obsessed tone of a person 
stunned by a shock, cut off from reality. "What does it look like?" 

"Are you hurt? What happened?" 

"No! . . . Oh, never mind, don't look at me! I'm all right. Look at this. 
Do you know what that is?" 

"What did you do to yourself?" 

"I had to dig it out of there. I'm all right." 
"You're shaking." 

"You will, too, in a moment. Hank! Look at it. Just look and tell me what 
you think it is." 

He glanced down, then looked attentively— then he was sitting on the floor, 
studying the object intently. "It's a queer way to put a motor together," he 
said, frowning. 

"Read this," she said, extending the pages. 

He read, looked up and said, "Good God!" 

She was sitting on the floor beside him, and for a moment they could say 
nothing else. 

"It was the coil," she said. She felt as if her mind were racing, she 
could not keep up with all the things which a sudden blast had opened to her 
vision, and her words came hurtling against one another. "It was the coil 
that I noticed first— because I had seen drawings like it, not quite, but 
something like it, years ago, when I was in school— it was in an old book, it 
was given up as impossible long, long ago— but I liked to read everything I 
could find about railroad motors. That book said that there was a time when 
men were thinking of it— they worked on it, they spent years on experiments, 
but they couldn't solve it and they gave it up. It was forgotten for 
generations. I didn't think that any living scientist ever thought of it now. 
But someone did. 

Someone has solved it, now, today! . . . Hank, do you understand? 

Those men, long ago, tried to invent a motor that would draw static 
electricity from the atmosphere, convert it and create its own power as it 
went along. They couldn't do it. They gave it up." She pointed at the broken 
shape. "But there it is." 

He nodded. He was not smiling. He sat looking at the remnant, intent on 
some thought of his own; it did not seem to be a happy thought. 

"Hank! Don't you understand what this means? It's the greatest revolution 
in power motors since the internal-combustion engine- 
greater than that! It wipes everything out— and makes everything possible. 
To hell with Dwight Sanders and all of them! Who'll want to look at a Diesel? 
Who'll want to worry about oil, coal or refueling stations? Do you see what I 
see? A brand-new locomotive half the size of a single Diesel unit, and with 
ten times the power. A self -generator , working on a few drops of fuel, with 
no limits to its energy. The cleanest, swiftest, cheapest means of motion 
ever devised. Do you see what this will do to our transportation systems and 
to the country— in about one year?" 

There was no spark of excitement in his face. He said slowly, "Who 
designed it? Why was it left here?" 

"We'll find out." 

He weighed the pages in his hand reflectively. "Dagny, " he asked, "if you 
don't find the man who made it, will you be able to reconstruct that motor 
from what is left?" 

She took a long moment, then the word fell with a sinking sound: "No." 

"Nobody will. He had it all right. It worked— j udging by what he writes 
here. It is the greatest thing I've ever laid eyes on. It was. We can't make 
it work again. To supply what's missing would take a mind as great as his." 

"I'll find him— if I have to drop every other thing I'm doing." 

"—and if he's still alive." 

She heard the unstated guess in the tone of his voice. "Why do you say it 
like that?" 

"I don't think he is. If he were, would he leave an invention of this kind 
to rot on a junk pile? Would he abandon an achievement of this size? If he 
were still alive, you would have had the locomotives with the self-generators 
years ago. And you wouldn't have had to look for him, because the whole world 
would know his name by now." 

"I don't think this model was made so very long ago." 

He looked at the paper of the manuscript and at the rusty tarnish of the 
motor. "About ten years ago, I'd guess. Maybe a little longer." 

"We've got to find him or somebody who knew him. This is more important—" 

«— than anything owned or manufactured by anyone today. I don't think we'll 
find him. And if we don't, nobody will be able to repeat his performance. 
Nobody will rebuild his motor. There's not enough of it left. It's only a 
lead, an invaluable lead, but it would take the sort of mind that's born once 
in a century, to complete it. Do you see our present-day motor designers 
attempting it?" 

"No . " 

"There's not a first-rate designer left. There hasn't been a new idea in 
motors for years. That's one profession that seems to be dying— or dead." 

"Hank, do you know what that motor would have meant, if built?" 

He chuckled briefly. "I'd say: about ten years added to the life of every 
person in this country— if you consider how many things it would have made 
easier and cheaper to produce, how many hours of human labor it would have 
released for other work, and how much more anyone's work would have brought 
him. Locomotives? What about automobiles and ships and airplanes with a motor 
of this kind? And tractors. 

And power plants. All hooked to an unlimited supply of energy, with no 
fuel to pay for, except a few pennies' worth to keep the converter going. 
That motor could have set the whole country in motion and on fire. It would 
have brought an electric light bulb into every hole, even into the homes of 
those people we saw down in the valley." 

"It would have? It will. I'm going to find the man who made it." 

"We'll try." 

He rose abruptly, but stopped to glance down at the broken remnant and 
said, with a chuckle that was not gay, "There was the motor for the John Gait 
Line. " 

Then he spoke in the brusque manner of an executive. "First, we'll try to 
see if we can find their personnel office here. We'll look for their records, 
if there's any left. We want the names of their research staff and their 
engineers. I don't know who owns this place now, and I suspect that the 
owners will be hard to find, or they wouldn't have let it come to this. Then 
we'll go over every room in the laboratory. 

Later, we'll get a few engineers to fly here and comb the rest of the 
place . " 

They started out, but she stopped for a moment on the threshold. 

"Hank, that motor was the most valuable thing inside this factory, " 

she said, her voice low. "It was more valuable than the whole factory and 
everything it ever contained. Yet it was passed up and left in the refuse. It 
was the one thing nobody found worth the trouble of taking." 

"That's what frightens me about this," he answered. 

The personnel office did not take them long. They found it by the sign 
which was left on the door, but it was the only thing left. There was no 
furniture inside, no papers, nothing but the splinters of smashed windows. 

They went back to the room of the motor. Crawling on hands and knees, they 
examined every scrap of the junk that littered the floor. 

There was little to find. They put aside the papers that seemed to contain 
laboratory notes, but none referred to the motor, and there were no pages of 
the manuscript among them. The popcorn wrappers and the whiskey bottle 
testified to the kind of invading hordes that had rolled through the room, 
like waves washing the remnants of destruction away to unknown bottoms. 

They put aside a few bits of metal that could have belonged to the motor, 
but these were too small to be of value. The motor looked as if parts of it 
had been ripped off, perhaps by someone who thought he could put them to some 
customary use. What had remained was too unfamiliar to interest anybody. 

On aching knees, her palms spread flat upon the gritty floor, she felt the 
anger trembling within her, the hurting, helpless anger that answers the 
sight of desecration. She wondered whether someone's diapers hung on a 
clothesline made of the motor's missing wires— whether its wheels had become a 
rope pulley over a communal well— whether its cylinder was now a pot 
containing geraniums on the window sill of the sweetheart of the man with the 
whiskey bottle. 

There was a remnant of light on the hill, but a blue haze was moving in 
upon the valleys, and the red and gold of the leaves was spreading to the sky 
in strips of sunset. 

It was dark when they finished. She rose and leaned against the empty 
frame of the window for a touch of cool air on her forehead. The sky was dark 
blue. "It could have set the whole country in motion and on fire." She looked 
down at the motor. She looked out at the country. She moaned suddenly, hit by 
a single long shudder, and dropped her head on her arm, standing pressed to 
the frame of the window. 

"What's the matter?" he asked. 

She did not answer. 

He looked out. Far below, in the valley, in the gathering night, there 
trembled a few pale smears which were the lights of tallow candles. 


"God have mercy on us, ma'am!" said the clerk of the Hall of Records. 
"Nobody knows who owns that factory now. I guess nobody will ever know it, " 

The clerk sat at a desk in a ground-floor office, where dust lay 
undisturbed on the files and few visitors ever called. He looked at the 
shining automobile parked outside his window, in the muddy square that had 
once been the center of a prosperous county seat; he looked with a faint, 
wistful wonder at his two unknown visitors. 

"Why?" asked Dagny. 

He pointed helplessly at the mass of papers he had taken out of the files. 
"The court will have to decide who owns it, which I don't think any court can 
do. If a court ever gets to it. I don't think it will." 

"Why? What happened?" 

"Well, it was sold out— the Twentieth Century, I mean. The Twentieth 
Century Motor Company. It was sold twice, at the same time and to two 
different sets of owners. That was sort of a big scandal at the time, two 
years ago, and now it's just"— he pointed— " j ust a bunch of paper lying around, 
waiting for a court hearing. I don't see how any judge will be able to 
untangle any property rights out of it— or any right at all." 

"Would you tell me please just what happened?" 

"Well, the last legal owner of the factory was The People's Mortgage 
Company, of Rome, Wisconsin. That's the town the other side of the factory, 
thirty miles north. That Mortgage Company was a sort of noisy outfit that did 
a lot of advertising about easy credit. Mark Yonts was the head of it. Nobody 
knew where he came from and nobody knows where he's gone to now, but what 
they discovered, the morning after The People's Mortgage Company collapsed, 
was that Mark Yonts had sold the Twentieth Century Motor factory to a bunch 
of suckers from South Dakota, and that he'd also given it as collateral for a 
loan from a bank in Illinois. And when they took a look at the factory, they 
discovered that he'd moved all the machinery out and sold it piecemeal, God 
only knows where and to whom. So it seems like everybody owns the place— and 
nobody. That's how it stands now— the South Dakotans and the bank and the 
attorney for the creditors of The People's Mortgage Company all suing one 
another, all claiming this factory, and nobody having the right to move a 
wheel in it, except that there's no wheels left to move." 
"Did Mark Yonts operate the factory before he sold it?" 
"Lord, no, ma'am! He wasn't the kind that ever operates anything. 
He didn't want to make money, only to get it. Guess he got it, too- 
more than anyone could have made out of that factory." 

He wondered why the blond, hard-faced man, who sat with the woman in front 
of his desk, looked grimly out the window at their car, at a large object 
wrapped in canvas, roped tightly under the raised cover of the car's luggage 
compartment . 

"What happened to the factory records?" 

"Which do you mean, ma'am?" 

"Their production records. Their work records. Their . . . personnel 
files . " 

"Oh, there's nothing left of that now. There's been a lot of looting going 
on. All the mixed owners grabbed what furniture or things they could haul out 
of there, even if the sheriff did put a padlock on the door. The papers and 
stuff like that— I guess it was all taken by the scavengers from Starnesville, 
that's the place down in the valley, where they're having it pretty tough 
these days. They burned the stuff for kindling, most likely." 

"Is there anyone left here who used to work in the factory?" asked 
Rearden . 

"No, sir. Not around here. They all lived down in Starnesville . " 
"All of them?" whispered Dagny; she was thinking of the ruins. "The . . . 
engineers, too?" 

"Yes, ma'am. That was the factory town. They've all gone, long ago." 
"Do you happen to remember the names of any men who worked there?" 
"No, ma ' am. " 

"What owner was the last to operate the factory?" asked Rearden. 

"I couldn't say, sir. There's been so much trouble up there and the place 
has changed hands so many times, since old Jed Starnes died. 

He's the man who built the factory. He made this whole part of the 
country, I guess. He died twelve years ago." 

"Can you give us the names of all the owners since?" 

"No, sir. We had a fire in the old courthouse, about three years ago, and 
all the old records are gone. I don't know where you could trace them now." 

"You don't know how this Mark Yonts happened to acquire the factory?" 

"Yes, I know that. He bought it from Mayor Bascom of Rome. How Mayor 
Bascom happened to own it, I don't know." 

"Where is Mayor Bascom now?" 

"Still there, in Rome." 

"Thank you very much," said Rearden, rising. "We'll call on him." 
They were at the door when the clerk asked, "What is it you're looking 
for, sir?" 

"We're looking for a friend of ours," said Rearden. "A friend we've lost, 
who used to work in that factory." 

Mayor Bascom of Rome, Wisconsin, leaned back in his chair; his chest and 
stomach formed a pear-shaped outline under his soiled shirt. 

The air was a mixture of sun and dust, pressing heavily upon the porch of 
his house. He waved his arm, the ring on his finger flashing a large topaz of 
poor quality. 

"No use, no use, lady, absolutely no use," he said. "Would be just a waste 
of your time, trying to question the folks around here. There's no factory 
people left, and nobody that would remember much about them. So many families 
have moved away that what's left here is plain no good, if I do say so 
myself, plain no good, just being Mayor of a bunch of trash." 

He had offered chairs to his two visitors, but he did not mind it if the 
lady preferred to stand at the porch railing. He leaned back, studying her 
long-lined figure; high-class merchandise, he thought; but then, the man with 
her was obviously rich. 

Dagny stood looking at the streets of Rome. There were houses, sidewalks, 
lampposts, even a sign advertising soft drinks; but they looked as if it were 
now only a matter of inches and hours before the town would reach the stage 
of Starnesville. 

"Naw, there's no factory records left," said Mayor Bascom. "If that's what 
you want to find, lady, give it up. It's like chasing leaves in a storm now. 
Just like leaves in a storm. Who cares about papers? At a time like this, 
what people save is good, solid, material objects. One's got to be 
practical . " 

Through the dusty windowpanes, they could see the living room of his 
house: there were Persian rugs on a buckled wooden floor, a portable bar with 
chromium strips against a wall stained by the seepage of last year's rains, 
an expensive radio with an old kerosene lamp placed on top of it. 

"Sure, it's me that sold the factory to Mark Yonts. Mark was a nice 
fellow, a nice, lively, energetic fellow. Sure, he did trim a few corners, 
but who doesn't? Of course, he went a bit too far. That, I didn't expect. 

I thought he was smart enough to stay within the law— whatever ' s left of it 
nowadays . " 

Mayor Bascom smiled, looking at them in a manner of placid frankness. His 
eyes were shrewd without intelligence, his smile good-natured without 
kindness . 

"I don't think you folks are detectives," he said, "but even if you were, 
it wouldn't matter to me. I didn't get any rake-off from Mark, he didn't let 
me in on any of his deals, I haven't any idea where he's gone to now." He 
sighed. "I liked that fellow. Wish he'd stayed around. Never mind the Sunday 
sermons. He had to live, didn't he? He was no worse than anybody, only 
smarter. Some get caught at it and some don't— 

that's the only difference. . . . Nope, I didn't know what he was going to 
do with it, when he bought that factory. Sure, he paid me quite a bit more 
than the old booby trap was worth. Sure, he was doing me a favor when he 
bought it. Nope, I didn't put any pressure on him to make him buy it. Wasn't 
necessary. I'd done him a few favors before. There's plenty of laws that's 
sort of made of rubber, and a mayor's in a position to stretch them a bit for 
a friend. Well, what the hell? That's the only way anybody ever gets rich in 
this world"— he glanced at the luxurious black car— "as you ought to know." 

"You were telling us about the factory, " said Rearden, trying to control 
himself . 

"What I can't stand," said Mayor Bascom, "is people who talk about 
principles. No principle ever filled anybody's milk bottle. The only thing 
that counts in life is solid, material assets. It's no time for theories, 
when everything is falling to pieces around us. Well, me— I don't aim to go 
under. Let them keep their ideas and I'll take the factory. I don't want 
ideas, I just want my three square meals a day." 

"Why did you buy that factory?" 

"Why does anybody buy any business? To squeeze whatever can be squeezed 
out of it. I know a good chance when I see it. It was a bankruptcy sale and 
nobody much who'd want to bid on the old mess. So I got the place for 
peanuts. Didn't have to hold it long, either— Mark took it off my hands in 
two-three months. Sure, it was a smart deal, if I say so myself. No big 
business tycoon could have done any better with it." 

"Was the factory operating when you took it over?" 

"Naw. It was shut down." 

"Did you attempt to reopen it?" 

"Not me. I'm a practical person." 

"Can you recall the names of any men who worked there?" 
"No. Never met 'em." 

"Did you move anything out of the factory?" 

"Well, I'll tell you. I took a look around— and what I liked was old Jed's 
desk. Old led Starnes. He was a real big shot in his time. Wonderful desk, 
solid mahogany. So I carted it home. And some executive, don't know who he 
was, had a stall shower in his bathroom, the like of which I never saw. A 
glass door with a mermaid cut in the glass, real art work, and hot stuff, 
too, hotter than any oil painting. So I had that shower lifted and moved 
here. What the hell, I owned it, didn't I? I was entitled to get something 
valuable out of that factory." 

"Whose bankruptcy sale was it, when you bought the factory?" 

"Oh, that was the big crash of the Community National Bank in Madison. 
Boy, was that a crash! It just about finished the whole state of Wisconsin- 
sure finished this part of it. Some say it was this motor factory that broke 
the bank, but others say it was only the last drop in a leaking bucket, 
because the Community National had bum investments all over three or four 
states. Eugene Lawson was the head of it. The banker with a heart, they 
called him. He was quite famous in these parts two-three years ago." 

"Did Lawson operate the factory?" 

"No. He merely lent an awful lot of money on it, more than he could ever 
hope to get back out of the old dump. When the factory busted, that was the 
last straw for Gene Lawson. The bank busted three months later." He sighed. 
"It hit the folks pretty hard around here. They all had their life savings in 
the Community National." 

Mayor Bascom looked regretfully past his porch railing at his town. 

He jerked his thumb at a figure across the street: it was a white-haired 
charwoman, moving painfully on her knees, scrubbing the steps of a house. 

"See that woman, for instance? They used to be solid, respectable folks. 
Her husband owned the dry-goods store. He worked all his life to provide for 
her in her old age, and he did, too, by the time he died— 

only the money was in the Community National Bank." 

"Who operated the factory when it failed?" 

"Oh, that was some quicky corporation called Amalgamated Service, Inc. 
Just a puff-ball. Came up out of nothing and went back to it." 
"Where are its members?" 

"Where are the pieces of a puff-ball when it bursts? Try and trace them 
all over the United States. Try it." 
"Where is Eugene Lawson?" 

"Oh, him? He's done all right. He's got a job in Washington— in the Bureau 
of Economic Planning and National Resources." 

Rearden rose too fast, thrown to his feet by a jolt of anger, then said, 
controlling himself, "Thank you for the information." 

"You're welcome, friend, you're welcome," said Mayor Bascom placidly. "I 
don't know what it is you're after, but take my word for it, give it up. 
There's nothing more to be had out of that factory." 

"I told you that we are looking for a friend of ours." 

"Well, have it your way. Must be a pretty good friend, if you'll go to so 
much trouble to find him, you and the charming lady who is not your Wife." 

Dagny saw Rearden 's face go white, so that even his lips became a 
sculptured feature, indistinguishable against his skin. "Keep your dirty — " 

he began, but she stepped between them. 

"Why do you think that I am not his wife?" she asked calmly. 

Mayor Bascom looked astonished by Rearden 's reaction; he had made the 
remark without malice, merely like a fellow cheat displaying his shrewdness 
to his partners in guilt. 

"Lady, I've seen a lot in my lifetime," he said good-naturedly. "Married 
people don't look as if they have a bedroom on their minds when they look at 
each other. In this world, either you're virtuous or you enjoy yourself. Not 
both, lady, not both." 

"I've asked him a question," she said to Rearden in time to silence him. 
"He's given me an instructive explanation." 

"If you want a tip, lady," said Mayor Bascom, "get yourself a wedding ring 
from the dime store and wear it. It's not sure fire, but it helps." 

"Thank you," she said, "Good-bye." 

The stern, stressed calm of her manner was a command that made Rearden 
follow her back to their car in silence. 

They were miles beyond the town when he said, not looking at her, his 
voice desperate and low, "Dagny, Dagny, Dagny . . .I'm sorry!" 

"I'm not. " 

Moments later, when she saw the look of control returning to his face, she 
said, "Don't ever get angry at a man for stating the truth." 
"That particular truth was none of his business." 

"His particular estimate of it was none of your concern or mine." 
He said through his teeth, not as an answer, but as if the single thought 
battering his brain turned into sounds against his will, 'T 

couldn't protect you from that unspeakable little—" 

"I didn't need protection." 

He remained silent, not looking at her. 

"Hank, when you're able to keep down the anger, tomorrow or next week, 
give some thought to that man's explanation and see if you recognize any part 
of it." 

He jerked his head to glance at her, but said nothing. 

When he spoke, a long time later, it was only to say in a tired, even 
voice, "We can't call New York and have our engineers come here to search the 
factory. We can't meet them here. We can't let it be known that we found the 
motor together. ... I had forgotten all that . . . 

up there ... in the laboratory." 

"Let me call Eddie, when we find a telephone. I'll have him send two 
engineers from the Taggart staff. I'm here alone, on my vacation, for all 
they'll know or have to know." 

They drove two hundred miles before they found a long-distance telephone 
line. When she called Eddie Willers, he gasped, hearing her voice. 

"Dagny! For God's sake, where are you?" 

"In Wisconsin. Why?" 

"1 didn't know where to reach you. You'd better come back at once. 
As fast as you can." 
"What happened?" 

"Nothing— yet . But there are things going on, which . . . You'd better stop 
them now, if you can. If anybody can." 
"What things?" 

"Haven't you been reading the newspapers?" 
"No . " 

"I can't tell you over the phone. I can't give you all the details. 
Dagny, you'll think I'm insane, but I think they're planning to kill 
Colorado . " 

"I'll come back at once," she said. 

Cut into the granite of Manhattan, under the Taggart Terminal, there were 
tunnels which had once been used as sidings, at a time when traffic ran in 
clicking currents through every artery of the Terminal every hour of the day. 
The need for space had shrunk through the years, with the shrinking of the 
traffic, and the side tunnels had been abandoned, like dry river beds; a few 
lights remained as blue patches on the granite over rails left to rust on the 

Dagny placed the remnant of the motor into a vault in one of the tunnels; 
the vault had once contained an emergency electric generator, which had been 
removed long ago. She did not trust the useless young men of the Taggart 
research staff; there were only two engineers of talent among them, who could 
appreciate her discovery. She had shared her secret with the two and sent 
them to search the factory in Wisconsin. Then she had hidden the motor where 
no one else would know of its existence. 

When her workers carried the motor down to the vault and departed, she was 
about to follow them and lock the steel door, but she stopped, key in hand, 
as if the silence and solitude had suddenly thrown her at the problem she had 
been facing for days, as if this were the moment to make her decision. 

Her office car was waiting for her at one of the Terminal platforms, 
attached to the end of a train due to leave for Washington in a few minutes. 
She had made an appointment to see Eugene Lawson, but she had told herself 
that she would cancel it and postpone her quest— if she could think of some 
action to take against the things she had found on her return to New York, 
the things Eddie begged her to fight. 

She had tried to think, but she could see no way of fighting, no rules of 
battle, no weapons. Helplessness was a strange experience, new to her; she 

had never found it hard to face things and make decisions; but she was not 
dealing with things— this was a fog without shapes or definitions, in which 
something kept forming and shifting before it could be seen, like semi-clots 
in a not-quite-liquid— it was as if her eyes were reduced to side-vision and 
she were sensing blurs of disaster coiling toward her, but she could not move 
her glance, she had no glance to move and focus. 

The Union of Locomotive Engineers was demanding that the maximum speed of 
all trains on the John Gait Line be reduced to sixty miles an hour. The Union 
of Railway Conductors and Brakemen was demanding that the length of all 
freight trains on the John Gait Line be reduced to sixty cars. 

The states of Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona were demanding that 
the number of trains run in Colorado not exceed the number of trains run in 
each of these neighboring states. 

A group headed by Orren Boyle was demanding the passage of a Preservation 
of Livelihood Law, which would limit the production of Rearden Metal to an 
amount equal to the output of any other steel mill of equal plant capacity, A 
group headed by Mr. Mowen was demanding the passage of a Fair Share Law to 
give every customer who wanted it an equal supply of Rearden Metal. 

A group headed by Bertram Scudder was demanding the passage of a Public 
Stability Law, forbidding Eastern business firms to move out of their states. 

Wesley Mouch, Top Co-ordinator of the Bureau of Economic Planning and 
National Resources, was issuing a great many statements, the content and 
purpose of which could not be denned, except that the words "emergency 
powers" and "unbalanced economy" kept appearing in the text every few lines. 

"Dagny, by what right?" Eddie Willers had asked her, his voice quiet, but 
the words sounding like a cry. "By what right are they all doing it? 

By what right?" 

She had confronted James Taggart in his office and said, "Jim, this is 
your battle. I've fought mine. You're supposed to be an expert at dealing 
with the looters. Stop them." 

Taggart had said, not looking at her, "You can't expect to run the 
national economy to suit your own convenience." 

"I don't want to run the national economy! I want your national economy 
runners to leave me alone! I have a railroad to run— and I know what's going 
to happen to your national economy if my railroad collapses!" 

"I see no necessity for panic." 

"Jim, do I have to explain to you that the income from our Rio Norte Line 
is all we've got, to save us from collapsing? That we need every penny of it, 
every fare, every carload of freight— as fast as we can get it?" He had not 
answered. "When we have to use every bit of power in every one of our broken- 
down Diesels, when we don't have enough of them to give Colorado the service 
it needs— what ' s going to happen if we reduce the speed and the length of 

"Well, there's something to be said for the unions' viewpoint, too. 

With so many railroads closing and so many railroad men out of work, they 
feel that those extra speeds you've established on the Rio Norte Line are 
unfair— they feel that there should be more trains, instead, so that the work 
would be divided around— they feel that it's not fair for us to get all the 
benefit of that new rail, they want a share of it, too." 

"Who wants a share of it? In payment for what?" He had not answered. 
"Who'll bear the cost of two trains doing the work of one?" He had not 
answered. "Where are you going to get the cars and the engines?" He had not 
answered. "What are those men going to do after they've put Taggart 
Transcontinental out of existence?" 

"I fully intend to protect the interests of Taggart Transcontinental." 

"How?" He had not answered. "How— if you kill Colorado?" 

"It seems to me that before we worry about giving some people a chance to 
expand, we ought to give some consideration to the people who need a chance 
of bare survival." 

"If you kill Colorado, what is there going to be left for your damn 
looters to survive on?" 

"You have always been opposed to every progressive social measure. I seem 
to remember that you predicted disaster when we passed the Anti-dog-eat-dog 
Rule— but the disaster has not come." 

"Because I saved you, you rotten fools! I won't be able to save you this 
time!" He had shrugged, not looking at her. "And if I don't, who will?" He 
had not answered. 

It did not seem real to her, here, under the ground. Thinking of it here, 
she knew she could have no part in Jim's battle. There was no action she 
could take against the men of undefined thought, of unnamed motives, of 
unstated purposes, of unspecified morality. There was nothing she could say 
to them— nothing would be heard or answered. What were the weapons, she 
thought, in a realm where reason was not a weapon any longer? It was a realm 
she could not enter. She had to leave it to Jim and count on his self- 
interest. Dimly, she felt the chill of a thought telling her that self- 
interest was not Jim's motive. 

She looked at the object before her, a glass case containing the remnant 
of the motor. The man who made the motor— she thought suddenly, the thought 
coming like a cry of despair. She felt a moment's helpless longing to find 
him, to lean against him and let him tell her what to do. A mind like his 
would know the way to win this battle. 

She looked around her. In the clean, rational world of the underground 
tunnels, nothing was of so urgent an importance as the task of finding the 
man who made the motor. She thought: Could she delay it in order to argue 
with Orren Boyle?— to reason with Mr. Mowen?— to plead with Bertram Scudder? 
She saw the motor, completed, built into an engine that pulled a train of two 
hundred cars down a track of Rearden Metal at two hundred miles an hour. When 
the vision was within her reach, within the possible, was she to give it up 
and spend her time bargaining about sixty miles and sixty cars? She could not 
descend to an existence where her brain would explode under the pressure of 
forcing itself not to outdistance incompetence. She could not function to the 
rule of: Pipe down— keep down— slow down— don ' t do your best, it is not wanted! 

She turned resolutely and left the vault, to take the train for 
Washington . 

It seemed to her, as she locked the steel door, that she heard a faint 
echo of steps. She glanced up and down the dark curve of the tunnel. 

There was no one in sight; there was nothing but a string of blue lights 
glistening on walls of damp granite. 

Rearden could not fight the gangs who demanded the laws. The choice was to 
fight them or to keep his mills open. He had lost his supply of iron ore. He 
had to fight one battle or the other. There was no time for both. 

He had found, on his return, that a scheduled shipment of ore had not been 
delivered. No word or explanation had been heard from Larkin. When summoned 
to Rearden 's office, Larkin appeared three days later than the appointment 
made, offering no apology. He said, not looking at Rearden, his mouth drawn 
tightly into an expression of rancorous dignity: "After all, you can't order 
people to come running to your office any time you please." 

Rearden spoke slowly and carefully. "Why wasn't the ore delivered?" 

"I won't take abuse, I simply won't take any abuse for something I 
couldn't help. I can run a mine just as well as you ran it, every bit as 
well, I did everything you did— I don't know why something keeps going wrong 
unexpectedly all the time. I can't be blamed for the unexpected." 

"To whom did you ship your ore last month?" 

"I intended to ship you your share of it, I fully intended it, but I 
couldn't help it if we lost ten days of production last month on account of 
the rainstorm in the whole of north Minnesota— I intended to ship you the ore, 
so you can't blame me, because my intention was completely honest." 

"If one of my blast furnaces goes down, will I be able to keep it going by 
feeding your intention into it?" 

"That's why nobody can deal with you or talk to you— because you're 
inhuman, " 

"I have just learned that for the last three months, you have not been 
shipping your ore by the lake boats, you have been shipping it by rail. 

"Well, after all, I have a right to run my business as I see fit." 
"Why are you willing to pay the extra cost?" 
"What do you care? I'm not charging it to you." 

"What will you do when you find that you can't afford the rail rates and 
that you have destroyed the lake shipping?" 

"I am sure you wouldn't understand any consideration other than dollars 
and cents, but some people do consider their social and patriotic 
responsibilities . " 

"What responsibilities?" 

"Well, I think that a railroad like Taggart Transcontinental is essential 
to the national welfare and it is one's public duty to support Jim's 
Minnesota branch line, which is running at a deficit." 

Rearden leaned forward across the desk; he was beginning to see the links 
of a sequence he had never understood. "To whom did you ship your ore last 
month?" he asked evenly. 

"Well, after all, that is my private business which—" 

"To Orren Boyle, wasn't it?" 

"You can't expect people to sacrifice the entire steel industry of the 
nation to your selfish interests and—" 

"Get out of here," said Rearden. He said it calmly. The sequence was clear 
to him now. 

"Don't misunderstand me, I didn't mean—" 

"Get out." 

Larkin got out. 

Then there followed the days and nights of searching a continent by phone, 
by wire, by plane— of looking at abandoned mines and at mines ready to be 
abandoned— of tense, rushed conferences held at tables hi the unlighted 
corners of disreputable restaurants. Looking across the table, Rearden had to 
decide how much he could risk to invest upon the sole evidence of a man's 
face, manner and tone of voice, hating the state of having to hope for 
honesty as for a favor, but risking it, pouring money into unknown hands in 
exchange for unsupported promises, into unsigned, unrecorded loans to dummy 
owners of failing mines- 
money handed and taken furtively, as an exchange between criminals, in 
anonymous cash; money poured into unenforceable contracts— both parties 
knowing that in case of fraud, the defrauded was to be punished, not the 
def rauder— but poured that a stream of ore might continue flowing into 
furnaces, that the furnaces might continue to pour a stream of white metal. 

"Mr. Rearden," asked the purchasing manager of his mills, "if you keep 
that up, where will be your profit?" 

"We'll make it up on tonnage," said Rearden wearily. "We have an unlimited 
market for Rearden Metal." 

The purchasing manager was an elderly man with graying hair, a lean, dry 
face, and a heart which, people said, was given exclusively to the task of 
squeezing every last ounce of value out of a penny. He stood in front of 
Rearden 's desk, saying nothing else, merely looking straight at Rearden, his 

cold eyes narrowed and grim. It was a look of the most profound sympathy that 
Rearden had ever seen. 

There's no other course open, thought Rearden, as he had thought through 
days and nights. He knew no weapons but to pay for what he wanted, to give 
value for value, to ask nothing of nature without trading his effort in 
return, to ask nothing of men without trading the product of his effort. What 
were the weapons, he thought, if values were not a weapon any longer? 

"An unlimited market, Mr. Rearden?" the purchasing manager asked dryly. 

Rearden glanced up at him. "I guess I'm not smart enough to make the sort 
of deals needed nowadays," he said, in answer to the unspoken thoughts that 
hung across his desk. 

The purchasing manager shook his head. "No, Mr. Rearden, it's one or the 
other. The same kind of brain can't do both. Either you're good at running 
the mills or you're good at running to Washington." 

"Maybe I ought to learn their method." 

"You couldn't learn it and it wouldn't do you any good. You wouldn't win 
in any of those deals. Don't you understand? You're the one who's got 
something to be looted." 

When he was left alone, Rearden felt a jolt of blinding anger, as it had 
come to him before, painful, single and sudden like an electric shock— the 
anger bursting out of the knowledge that one cannot deal with pure evil, with 
the naked, full-conscious evil that neither has nor seeks justification. But 
when he felt the wish to fight and kill in the rightful cause of self- 
defense— he saw the fat, grinning face of Mayor Bascom and heard the drawling 
voice saying, ". . . you and the charming lady who is not your wife." 

Then no rightful cause was left, and the pain of anger was turning into 
the shameful pain of submission. He had no right to condemn anyone— he 
thought— to denounce anything, to fight and die joyously, claiming the 
sanction of virtue. The broken promises, the unconfessed desires, the 
betrayal, the deceit, the lies, the fraud— he was guilty of them all. What 
form of corruption could he scorn? Degrees do not matter, he thought; one 
does not bargain about inches of evil. 

He did not know— as he sat slumped at his desk, thinking of the honesty he 
could claim no longer, of the sense of justice he had lost— 

that it was his rigid honesty and ruthless sense of justice that were now 
knocking his only weapon out of his hands. He would fight the looters, but 
the wrath and fire were gone. He would fight, but only as one guilty wretch 
against the others. He did not pronounce the words, but the pain was their 
equivalent, the ugly pain saying: Who am I to cast the first stone? 

He let his body fall across the desk. . . . Dagny, he thought, Dagny, if 
this is the price I have to pay, I'll pay it. . . .He was still the trader 
who knew no code except that of full payment for his desires. 

It was late when he came home and hurried soundlessly up the stairs to his 
bedroom. He hated himself for being reduced to sneaking, but he had done it 
on most of his evenings for months. The sight of his family had become 
unbearable to him; he could not tell why. Don't hate them for your own guilt, 
he had told himself, but knew dimly that this was not the root of his hatred. 

He closed the door of his bedroom like a fugitive winning a moment's 
reprieve. He moved cautiously, undressing for bed: he wanted no sound to 
betray his presence to his family, he wanted no contact with them, not even 
in their own minds. 

He had put on his pajamas and stopped to light a cigarette, when the door 
of his bedroom opened. The only person who could properly enter his room 
without knocking had never volunteered to enter it, so he stared blankly for 
a moment before he was able to believe that it was Lillian who came in. 

She wore an Empire garment of pale chartreuse, its pleated skirt streaming 
gracefully from its high waistline; one could not tell at first glance 
whether it was an evening gown or a negligee; it was a negligee. 

She paused in the doorway, the lines of her body flowing into an 
attractive silhouette against the light. 

"I know I shouldn't introduce myself to a stranger," she said softly, "but 
I'll have to: my name is Mrs. Rearden." He could not tell whether it was 
sarcasm or a plea. 

She entered and threw the door closed with a casual, imperious gesture, 
the gesture of an owner. 

"What is it, Lillian?" he asked quietly. 

"My dear, you mustn't confess so much so bluntly"— she moved in a leisurely 
manner across the room, past his bed, and sat down in an armchair— "and so 
unf latteringly . It's an admission that I need to show special cause for 
taking your time. Should I make an appointment through your secretary?" 

He stood in the middle of the room, holding the cigarette at his lips, 
looking at her. volunteering no answer. 

She laughed. "My reason is so unusual that I know it will never occur to 
you: loneliness, darling. Do you mind throwing a few crumbs of your expensive 
attention to a beggar? Do you mind if I stay here without any formal reason 
at all?" 

"No," he said quietly, "not if you wish to." 

"I have nothing weighty to discuss— no million-dollar orders, no 
transcontinental deals, no rails, no bridges. Not even the political 
situation. I just want to chatter like a woman about perfectly unimportant 
things . " 

"Go ahead." 

"Henry, there's no better way to stop me, is there?" She had an air of 
helpless, appealing sincerity. "What can I say after that? Suppose I wanted 
to tell you about the new novel which Balph Eubank is writing— he is 
dedicating it to me— would that interest you?" 

"If it's the truth that you want— not in the least." 

She laughed. "And if it's not the truth that I want?" 

"Then I wouldn't know what to say," he answered— and felt a rush of blood 
to his brain, tight as a slap, realizing suddenly the double infamy of a lie 
uttered in protestation of honesty; he had said it sincerely, but it implied 
a boast to which he had no right any longer. "Why would you want it, if it's 
not the truth?" he asked. "What for?" 

"Now you see, that's the cruelty of conscientious people. You wouldn't 
understand it— would you?— if I answered that real devotion consists of being 
willing to lie, cheat and fake in order to make another person happy— to 
create for him the reality he wants, if he doesn't like the one that exists." 

"No," he said slowly, "I wouldn't understand it." 

"It's really very simple. If you tell a beautiful woman that she is 
beautiful, what have you given her? It's no more than a fact and it has cost 
you nothing. But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer 
her the great homage of corrupting the concept of beauty. To love a woman for 
her virtues is meaningless. She's earned it, it's a payment, not a gift. But 
to love her for her vices is a real gift, unearned and undeserved. To love 
her for her vices is to defile all virtue for her sake— and that is a real 
tribute of love, because you sacrifice your conscience, your reason, your 
integrity and your invaluable self-esteem." 

He looked at her blankly. It sounded like some sort of monstrous 
corruption that precluded the possibility of wondering whether anyone could 
mean it; he wondered only what was the point of uttering it. 

"What's love, darling, if it's not self-sacrifice?" she went on lightly, 
in the tone of a drawing-room discussion. "What's self-sacrifice, unless one 

sacrifices that which is one's most precious and most important? But I don't 
expect you to understand it. Not a stainless-steel Puritan like you. 

That's the immense selfishness of the Puritan. You'd let the whole world 
perish rather than soil that immaculate self of yours with a single spot of 
which you'd have to be ashamed." 

He said slowly, his voice oddly strained and solemn, "I have never claimed 
to be immaculate." 

She laughed. "And what is it you're being right now? You're giving me an 
honest answer, aren't you?" She shrugged her naked shoulders. 

"Oh, darling, don't take me seriously! I'm just talking." 

He ground his cigarette into an ashtray; he did not answer. 

"Darling," she said, "I actually came here only because I kept thinking 
that I had a husband and I wanted to find out what he looked like." 

She studied him as he stood across the room, the tall, straight, taut 
lines of his body emphasized by the single color of the dark blue pajamas. 

"You're very attractive," she said. "You look so much better— these last 
few months. Younger. Should I say happier? You look less tense. 

Oh, I know you're rushed more than ever and you act like a commander in an 
air raid, but that's only the surface. You're less tense- 
inside . " 

He looked at her, astonished. It was true; he had not known it, had not 
admitted it to himself. He wondered at her power of observation. 

She had seen little of him in these last few months. He had not entered 
her bedroom since his return from Colorado. He had thought that she would 
welcome their isolation from each other. Now he wondered what motive could 
have made her so sensitive to a change in him— unless it was a feeling much 
greater than he had ever suspected her of experiencing. 

"I was not aware of it," he said. 

"It's quite becoming, dear— and astonishing, since you've been having such 
a terribly difficult time." 

He wondered whether this was intended as a question. She paused, as if 
waiting for an answer, but she did not press it and went on gaily: "I know 
you're having all sorts of trouble at the mills— and then the political 
situation is getting to be ominous, isn't it? If they pass those laws they're 
talking about, it will hit you pretty hard, won't it?" 

"Yes. It will. But that is a subject which is of no interest to you, 
Lillian, is it?" 

"Oh, but it is!" She raised her head and looked straight at him; her eyes 
had the blank, veiled look he had seen before, a look of deliberate mystery 
and of confidence in his inability to solve it. "It is of great interest to 
me . . . though not because of any possible financial losses," 

she added softly. 

He wondered, for the first time, whether her spite, her sarcasm, the 
cowardly manner of delivering insults under the protection of a smile, were 
not the opposite of what he had always taken them to be— not a method of 
torture, but a twisted form of despair, not a desire to make him suffer, but 
a confession of her own pain, a defense for the pride of an unloved wife, a 
secret plea— so that the subtle, the hinted, the evasive in her manner, the 
thing begging to be understood, was not the open malice, but the hidden love. 
He thought of it, aghast. It made his guilt greater than he had ever 
contemplated . 

"If we're talking politics, Henry, I had an amusing thought. The side you 
represent— what is that slogan you all use so much, the motto you're supposed 
to stand for? 'The sanctity of contract'— is that it?" 

She saw his swift glance, the intentness of his eyes, the first response 
of something she had struck, and she laughed aloud. 

"Go on," he said; his voice was low; it had the sound of a threat. 

"Darling, what for?— since you understood me quite well." 

"What was it you intended to say?" His voice was harshly precise and 
without any color of feeling. 

"Do you really wish to bring me to the humiliation of complaining? 

It's so trite and such a common complaint— although I did think I had a 
husband who prides himself on being different from lesser men. Do you want me 
to remind you that you once swore to make my happiness the aim of your life? 
And that you can't really say in all honesty whether I'm happy or unhappy, 
because you haven't even inquired whether I exist?" 

He felt them as a physical pain— all the things that came tearing at him 
impossibly together. Her words were a plea, he thought— and he felt the dark, 
hot flow of guilt. He felt pity— the cold ugliness of pity without affection. 
He felt a dim anger, like a voice he tried to choke, a voice crying in 
revulsion: Why should I deal with her rotten, twisted lying?— why should I 
accept torture for the sake of pity?— why is it I who should have to take the 
hopeless burden of trying to spare a feeling she won't admit, a feeling I 
can't know or understand or try to guess? 

—if she loves me, why doesn't the damn coward say so and let us both face 
it in the open? He heard another, louder voice, saying evenly: Don't switch 
the blame to her, that's the oldest trick of all cowards— 

you're guilty— no matter what she does, it's nothing compared to your 
guilt— she's right— it makes you sick, doesn't it, to know it's she who's 
right?— let it make you sick, you damn adulterer— it ' s she who's right! 

"What would make you happy, Lillian?" he asked. His voice was toneless. 

She smiled, leaning back in her chair, relaxing; she had been watching his 
face intently. 

"Oh, dear!" she said, as in bored amusement. "That's the shyster question. 
The loophole. The escape clause." 

She got up, letting her arms fall with a shrug, stretching her body in a 
limp, graceful gesture of helplessness. 

"What would make me happy, Henry? That is what you ought to tell me. That 
is what you should have discovered for me. I don't know. You were to create 
it and offer it to me. That was your trust, your obligation, your 
responsibility. But you won't be the first man to default on that promise. 
It's the easiest of all debts to repudiate. Oh, you'd never welsh on a 
payment for a load of iron ore delivered to you. Only on a life." 

She was moving casually across the room, the green-yellow folds of her 
skirt coiling in long waves about her, "I know that claims of this kind are 
impractical," she said. "I have no mortgage on you, no collateral, no guns, 
no chains. I have no hold on you at all, Henry— nothing but your honor." 

He stood looking at her as if it took all of his effort to keep his eyes 
directed at her face, to keep seeing her, to endure the sight. "What do you 
want?" he asked. 

"Darling, there are so many things you could guess by yourself, if you 
really wished to know what I want. For instance, if you have been avoiding me 
so blatantly for months, wouldn't I want to know the reason?" 

"I have been very busy." 

She shrugged. "A wife expects to be the first concern of her husband's 
existence. I didn't know that when you swore to forsake all others, it didn't 
include blast furnaces." 

She came closer and, with an amused smile that seemed to mock them both, 
she slipped her arms around him. 

It was the swift, instinctive, ferocious gesture of a young bridegroom at 
the unrequested contact of a whore— the gesture with which he tore her arms 
off his body and threw her aside. 

He stood, paralyzed, shocked by the brutality of his own reaction. 

She was staring at him, her face naked in bewilderment, with no mystery, 
no pretense or protection; whatever calculations she had made, this was a 
thing she had not expected. 

"I'm sorry, Lillian . . ."he said, his voice low, a voice of sincerity 
and of suffering. 

She did not answer. 

"I'm sorry . . . It's just that I'm very tired," he added, his voice 
lifeless; he was broken by the triple lie, one part of which was a disloyalty 
he could not bear to face; it was not the disloyalty to Lillian. 

She gave a brief chuckle. "Well, if that's the effect your work has on 
you, I may come to approve of it. Do forgive me, I was merely trying to do my 
duty. I thought that you were a sensualist who'd never rise above the 
instincts of an animal in the gutter. I'm not one of those bitches who belong 
in it." She was snapping the words dryly, absently, without thinking. Her 
mind was on a question mark, racing over every possible answer. 

It was her last sentence that made him face her suddenly, face her simply, 
directly, not as one on the defensive any longer. "Lillian, what purpose do 
you live for?" he asked. 

"What a crude question! No enlightened person would ever ask it." 

"Well, what is it that enlightened people do with their lives?" 

"Perhaps they do not attempt to do anything. That is their enlightenment." 

"What do they do with their time?" 

"They certainly don't spend it on manufacturing plumbing pipes." 
"Tell me, why do you keep making those cracks? I know that you feel 
contempt for the plumbing pipes. You've made that clear long ago. 
Your contempt means nothing to me. Why keep repeating it?" 

He wondered why this hit her; he did not know in what manner, but he knew 
that it did. He wondered why he felt with absolute certainty that that had 
been the right thing to say. 

She asked, her voice dry, "What's the purpose of the sudden 
questionnaire? " 

He answered simply, "I'd like to know whether there's anything that you 
really want. If there is, I'd like to give it to you, if I can." 

"You'd like to buy it? That's all you know— paying for things. You get off 
easily, don't you? No, it's not as simple as that. What I want is non- 
material . " 

"What is it?" 

"You. " 

"How do you mean that, Lillian? You don't mean it in the gutter sense." 
"No, not in the gutter sense." 
"How, then?" 

She was at the door, she turned, she raised her head to look at him and 
smiled coldly. 

"You wouldn't understand it," she said and walked out. 

The torture remaining to him was the knowledge that she would never want 
to leave him and he would never have the right to leave— 

the thought that he owed her at least the feeble recognition of sympathy, 
of respect for a feeling he could neither understand nor return— 

the knowledge that he could summon nothing for her, except contempt, a 
strange, total, unreasoning contempt, impervious to pity, to reproach, to his 
own pleas for justice— and, hardest to bear, the proud revulsion against his 
own verdict, against his demand that he consider himself lower than this 
woman he despised. 

Then it did not matter to him any longer, it all receded into some outer 
distance, leaving only the thought that he was willing to bear anything— 
leaving him in a state which was both tension and peace— because he lay in 
bed, his face pressed to the pillow, thinking of Dagny, of her slender, 

sensitive body stretched beside him, trembling under the touch of his 
fingers. He wished she were back in New York. If she were, he would have gone 
there, now, at once, in the middle of the night. 

Eugene Lawson sat at his desk as if it were the control panel of a bomber 
plane commanding a continent below. But he forgot it, at times, and slouched 
down, his muscles going slack inside his suit, as if he were pouting at the 
world. His mouth was the one part of him which he could not pull tight at any 
time; it was uncomfortably prominent in his lean face, attracting the eyes of 
any listener: when he spoke, the movement ran through his lower lip, twisting 
its moist flesh into extraneous contortions of its own. 

"I am not ashamed of it," said Eugene Lawson. "Miss Taggart, I want you to 
know that I am not ashamed of my past career as president of the Community 
National Bank of Madison." 

"I haven't made any reference to shame," said Dagny coldly. 

"No moral guilt can be attached to me, inasmuch as I lost everything I 
possessed in the crash of that bank. It seems to me that I would have the 
right to feel proud of such a sacrifice." 

"I merely wanted to ask you some questions about the Twentieth Century 
Motor Company which—" 

"I shall be glad to answer any questions. I have nothing to hide. My 
conscience is clear. If you thought that the subject was embarrassing to me, 
you were mistaken. '1 

"I wanted to inquire about the men who owned the factory at the time when 
you made a loan to—" 

"They were perfectly good men. They were a perfectly sound risk- 
though, of course, I am speaking in human terms, not in the terms of cold 
cash, which you are accustomed to expect from bankers. I granted them the 
loan for the purchase of that factory, because they needed the money. If 
people needed money, that was enough for me. Need was my standard, Miss 
Taggart. Need, not greed. My father and grandfather built up the Community 
National Bank just to amass a fortune for themselves. I placed their fortune 
in the service of a higher ideal. I did not sit on piles of money and demand 
collateral from poor people who needed loans. The heart was my collateral. Of 
course, I do not expect anyone in this materialistic country to understand 
me. The rewards I got were not of a kind that people of your class, Miss 
Taggart, would appreciate. The people who used to sit in front of my desk at 
the bank, did not sit as you do, Miss Taggart. They were humble, uncertain, 
worn with care, afraid to speak. My rewards were the tears of gratitude in 
their eyes, the trembling voices, the blessings, the woman who kissed my hand 
when I granted her a loan she had begged for in vain everywhere else." 

"Will you please tell me the names of the men who owned the motor 

"That factory was essential to the region, absolutely essential. I was 
perfectly justified in granting that loan. It provided employment for 
thousands of workers who had no other means of livelihood." 

"Did you know any of the people who worked in the factory?" 

"Certainly. I knew them all. It was men that interested me, not machines. 
I was concerned with the human side of industry, not the cash register side." 

She leaned eagerly across the desk. "Did you know any of the engineers who 
worked there?" 

"The engineers? No, no. I was much more democratic than that. It's the 
real workers that interested me. The common men. They all knew me by sight. I 
used to come into the shops and they would wave and shout, 'Hello, Gene.' 
That's what they called me— Gene. But I'm sure this is of no interest to you. 
It's past history. Now if you really came to Washington in order to talk to 
me about your railroad"— he straightened up briskly, the bomber-plane pose 
returning— "I don't know whether I can promise you any special consideration, 

inasmuch as I must hold the national welfare above any private privileges or 
interests which—" 

"1 didn't come to talk to you about my railroad," she said, looking at him 
in bewilderment. "I have no desire to talk to you about my railroad." 
"No?" He sounded disappointed. 

"No. I came for information about the motor factory. Could you possibly 
recall the names of any of the engineers who worked there?" 

"I don't believe I ever inquired about their names. I wasn't concerned 
with the parasites of office and laboratory. I was concerned with the real 
workers— the men of calloused hands who keep a factory going. They were my 
friends . " 

"Can you give me a few of their names? Any names, of anyone who worked 

"My dear Miss Taggart, it was so long ago, there were thousands of them, 
how can I remember?" 

"Can't you recall one, any one?" 

"I certainly cannot. So many people have always filled my life that I 
can't be expected to recall individual drops in the ocean." 

"Were you familiar with the production of that factory? With the kind of 
work they were doing— or planning?" 

"Certainly. I took a personal interest in all my investments. I went to 
inspect that factory very often. They were doing exceedingly well. 

They were accomplishing wonders. The workers' housing conditions were the 
best in the country. I saw lace curtains at every window and flowers on the 
window sills. Every home had a plot of ground for a garden. They had built a 
new schoolhouse for the children." 

"Did you know anything about the work of the factory's research 
laboratory? " 

"Yes, yes, they had a wonderful research laboratory, very advanced, very 
dynamic, with forward vision and great plans." 

"Do you . . . remember hearing anything about . . . any plans to produce a 
new type of motor?" 

"Motor? What motor, Miss Taggart? I had no time for details. My objective 
was social progress, universal prosperity, human brotherhood and love. Love, 
Miss Taggart. That is the key to everything. If men learned to love one 
another, it would solve all their problems." 

She turned away, not to see the damp movements of his mouth. 

A chunk of stone with Egyptian hieroglyphs lay on a pedestal in a corner 
of the office— the statue of a Hindu goddess with six spider arms stood in a 
niche— and a huge graph of bewildering mathematical detail, like the sales 
chart of a mail-order house, hung on the wall. 

"Therefore, if you're thinking of your railroad, Miss Taggart— as, of 
course, you are, in view of certain possible developments— I must point out to 
you that although the welfare of the country is my first consideration, to 
which I would not hesitate to sacrifice anyone's profits, still, I have never 
closed my ears to a plea for mercy and—" 

She looked at him and understood what it was that he wanted from her, what 
sort of motive kept him going. 

"I don't wish to discuss my railroad," she said, fighting to keep her 
voice monotonously flat, while she wanted to scream in revulsion. "Anything 
you have to say on the subject, you will please say it to my brother, Mr. 
James Taggart." 

"I'd think that at a time like this you wouldn't want to pass up a rare 
opportunity to plead your case before—" 

"Have you preserved any records pertaining to the motor factory?" 
She sat straight, her hands clasped tight together. 

"What records? I believe I told you that I lost everything I owned when 
the bank collapsed." His body had gone slack once more, his interest had 
vanished. "But I do not mind it. What I lost was mere material wealth. I am 
not the first man in history to suffer for an ideal. I was defeated by the 
selfish greed of those around me. I couldn't establish a system of 
brotherhood and love in just one small state, amidst a nation of profit- 
seekers and dollar-grubbers. It was not my fault. But I won't let them beat 
me. I am not to be stopped. I am fighting— on a wider scale— for the privilege 
of serving my fellow men. Records, Miss Taggart? The record I left, when I 
departed from Madison, is inscribed in the hearts of the poor, who had never 
had a chance before." 

She did not want to utter a single unnecessary word; but she could not 
stop herself: she kept seeing the figure of the old charwoman scrubbing the 
steps. "Have you seen that section of the country since?" she asked. 

"It's not my fault!" he yelled. "It's the fault of the rich who still had 
money, but wouldn't sacrifice it to save my bank and the people of Wisconsin! 
You can't blame me! I lost everything!" 

"Mr. Lawson, " she said with effort, "do you perhaps recall the name of the 
man who headed the corporation that owned the factory? The corporation to 
which you lent the money. It was called Amalgamated Service, wasn't it? Who 
was its president?" 

"Oh, him? Yes, I remember him. His name was Lee Hunsacker. A very 
worthwhile young man, who's taken a terrible beating." 

"Where is he now? Do you know his address?" 

"Why— I believe he's somewhere in Oregon. Grangeville, Oregon. 

My secretary can give you his address. But I don't see of what interest . 
. . Miss Taggart, if what you have in mind is to try to see Mr. 

Wesley Mouch, let me tell you that Mr. Mouch attaches a great deal of 
weight to my opinion in matters affecting such issues as railroads and other— 

"I have no desire to see Mr. Mouch," she said, rising. 

"But then, I can't understand . . . What, really, was your purpose in 
coming here?" 

"I am trying to find a certain man who used to work for the Twentieth 
Century Motor Company." 

"Why do you wish to find him?" 

"I want him to work for my railroad." 

He spread his arms wide, looking incredulous and slightly indignant. 

"At such a moment, when crucial issues hang in the balance, you choose to 
waste your time on looking for some one employee? Believe me, the fate of 
your railroad depends on Mr. Mouch much more than on any employee you ever 
find. " 

"Good day," she said. 

She had turned to go, when he said, his voice jerky and high, "You haven't 
any right to despise me." 

She stopped to look at him. "I have expressed no opinion." 

"I am perfectly innocent, since I lost my money, since I lost all of my 
own money for a good cause. My motives were pure. I wanted nothing for 
myself. I've never sought anything for myself. Miss Taggart, I can proudly 
say that in all of my life I have never made a profit!" 

Her voice was quiet, steady and solemn: "Mr. Lawson, I think I should let 
you know that of all the statements a man can make, that is the one I 
consider most despicable." 

"I never had a chance!" said Lee Hunsacker. 

He sat in the middle of the kitchen, at a table cluttered with papers. 
He needed a shave; his shirt needed laundering. It was hard to judge his 
age: the swollen flesh of his face looked smooth and blank, untouched by 

experience; the graying hair and filmy eyes looked worn by exhaustion; he was 
forty-two . 

"Nobody ever gave me a chance. I hope they're satisfied with what they've 
made of me. But don't think that I don't know it. I know I was cheated out of 
my birthright. Don't let them put on any airs about how kind they are. 
They're a stinking bunch of hypocrites." 

"Who?" asked Dagny. 

"Everybody," said Lee Hunsacker. "People are bastards at heart and it's no 
use pretending otherwise. Justice? Huh! Look at it!" His arm swept around 
him. "A man like me reduced to this!" 

Beyond the window, the light of noon looked like grayish dusk among the 
bleak roofs and naked trees of a place that was not country and could never 
quite become a town. Dusk and dampness seemed soaked into the walls of the 
kitchen. A pile of breakfast dishes lay in the sink; a pot of stew simmered 
on the stove, emitting steam with the greasy odor of cheap meat; a dusty 
typewriter stood among the papers on the table. 

"The Twentieth Century Motor Company, " said Lee Hunsacker, "was one of the 
most illustrious names in the history of American industry. I was the 
president of that company. I owned that factory. 

But they wouldn't give me a chance." 

"You were not the president of the Twentieth Century Motor Company, were 
you? I believe you headed a corporation called Amalgamated Service?" 

"Yes, yes, but it's the same thing. We took over their factory. We were 
going to do just as well as they did. Better. We were just as important. Who 
the hell was Jed Starnes anyway? Nothing but a backwoods garage mechanic— did 
you know that that's how he started?— without any background at all. My family 
once belonged to the New York Four Hundred. My grandfather was a member of 
the national legislature. It's not my fault that my father couldn't afford to 
give me a car of my own, when he sent me to school. All the other boys had 
cars. My family name was just as good as any of theirs. When I went to 
college—" He broke off abruptly. "What newspaper did you say you're from?" 

She had given him her name; she did not know why she now felt glad that he 
had not recognized it and why she preferred not to enlighten him. "I did not 
say I was from a newspaper, " she answered, " j need some information on that 
motor factory for a private purpose of my own, not for publication." 

"Oh." He looked disappointed. He went on sullenly, as if she were guilty 
of a deliberate offense against him. "I thought maybe you came for an advance 
interview because I'm writing my autobiography." He pointed to the papers on 
the table. "And what I intend to tell is plenty. 

I intend— Oh, hell!" he said suddenly, remembering something. 

He rushed to the stove, lifted the lid off the pot and went through the 
motions of stirring the stew, hatefully, paying no attention to his 
performance. He flung the wet spoon down on the stove, letting the grease 
drip into the gas burners, and came back to the table. 

"Yeah, I'll write my autobiography if anybody ever gives me a chance," he 
said. "How can I concentrate on serious work when this is the sort of thing I 
have to do?" He jerked his head at the stove. 

"Friends, huh! Those people think that just because they took me in, they 
can exploit me like a Chinese coolie! Just because I had no other place to 
go. They have it easy, those good old friends of mine. He never lifts a 
finger around the house, just sits in his store all day; a lousy little two- 
bit stationery store— can it compare in importance with the book I'm writing? 
And she goes out shopping and asks me to watch her damn stew for her. She 
knows that a writer needs peace and concentration, but does she care about 
that? Do you know what she did today?" He leaned confidentially across the 
table, pointing at the dishes in the sink. "She went to the market and left 
all the breakfast dishes there and said she'd do them later. I know what she 

wanted. She expected me to do them. Well, I'll fool her. I'll leave them just 
where they are." 

"Would you allow me to ask you a few questions about the motor factory?" 

"Don't imagine that that motor factory was the only thing in my life. 

I'd held many important positions before. I was prominently connected, at 
various times, with enterprises manufacturing surgical appliances, paper 
containers, men's hats and vacuum cleaners. Of course, that sort of stuff 
didn't give me much scope. But the motor factory— that was my big chance. That 
was what I'd been waiting for." 

"How did you happen to acquire it?" 

"It was meant for me. It was my dream come true. The factory was 'shut 
down— bankrupt . The heirs of Jed Starnes had run it into the ground pretty 
fast. I don't know exactly what it was, but there had been something goofy 
going on up there, so the company went broke. The railroad people closed 
their branch line. Nobody wanted the place, nobody would bid on it. But there 
it was, this great factory, with all the equipment, all the machinery, all 
the things that had made millions for Jed Starnes. That was the kind of setup 
I wanted, the kind of opportunity I was entitled to. So I got a few friends 
together and we formed the Amalgamated Service Corporation and we scraped up 
a little money. But we didn't have enough, we needed a loan to help us out 
and give us a start. It was a perfectly safe bet, we were young men embarking 
on great careers, full of eagerness and hope for the future. 

But do you think anybody gave us any encouragement? They did not. 

Not those greedy, entrenched vultures of privilege! How were we to succeed 
in life if nobody would give us a factory? We couldn't compete against the 
little snots who inherit whole chains of factories, could we? 

Weren't we entitled to the same break? Aw, don't let me hear anything 
about justice! I worked like a dog, trying to get somebody to lend us the 
money. But that bastard Midas Mulligan put me through the wringer." 

She sat up straight. "Midas Mulligan?" 

"Yeah— the banker who looked like a truck driver and acted it, too!" 
"Did you know Midas Mulligan?" 

"Did I know him? I'm the only man who ever beat him— not that it did me any 
good ! " 

At odd moments, with a sudden sense of uneasiness, she had wondered— as she 
wondered about the stories of deserted ships found floating at sea or of 
sourceless lights flashing in the sky— about the disappearance of Midas 
Mulligan. There was no reason why she felt that she had to solve these 
riddles, except that they were mysteries which had no business being 
mysteries: they could not be causeless, yet no known cause could explain 

Midas Mulligan had once been the richest and, consequently, the most 
denounced man in the country. He had never taken a loss on any investment he 
made; everything he touched turned into gold. "It's because I know what to 
touch," he said. Nobody could grasp the pattern of his investments: he 
rejected deals that were considered flawlessly safe, and he put enormous 
amounts into ventures that no other banker would handle. Through the years, 
he had been the trigger that had sent unexpected, spectacular bullets of 
industrial success shooting over the country. It was he who had invested in 
Rearden Steel at its start, thus helping Rearden to complete the purchase of 
the abandoned steel mills in Pennsylvania. When an economist referred to him 
once as an audacious gambler, Mulligan said, "The reason why you'll never get 
rich is because you think that what I do is gambling." 

It was rumored that one had to observe a certain unwritten rule when 
dealing with Midas Mulligan: if an applicant for a loan ever mentioned his 
personal need or any personal feeling whatever, the interview ended and he 
was never given another chance to speak to Mr. Mulligan. 

"Why yes, I can," said Midas Mulligan, when he was asked whether he could 
name a person more evil than the man with a heart closed to pity. "The man 
who uses another's pity for him as a weapon." 

In his long career, he had ignored all the public attacks on him, except 
one. His first name had been Michael; when a newspaper columnist of the 
humanitarian clique nicknamed him Midas Mulligan and the tag stuck to him as 
an insult, Mulligan appeared in court and petitioned for a legal change of 
his first name to "Midas." The petition was granted. 

In the eyes of his contemporaries, he was a man who had committed the one 
unforgivable sin: he was proud of his wealth. 

These were the things Dagny had heard about Midas Mulligan; she had never 
met him. Seven years ago, Midas Mulligan had vanished. 

He left his home one morning and was never heard from again. On the next 
day, the depositors of the Mulligan Bank in Chicago received notices 
requesting that they withdraw their funds, because the bank was closing. In 
the investigations that followed, it was learned that Mulligan had planned 
the closing in advance and in minute detail; his employees were merely 
carrying out his instructions. It was the most orderly run on a bank that the 
country ever witnessed. Every depositor received his money down to the last 
fraction of interest due. All of the bank's assets had been sold piecemeal to 
various financial institutions. When the books were balanced, it was found 
that they balanced perfectly, to the penny; nothing was left over; the 
Mulligan Bank had been wiped out. 

No clue was ever found to Mulligan's motive, to his personal fate or to 
the many millions of his personal fortune. The man and the fortune vanished 
as if they had never existed. No one had had any warning about his decision, 
and no events could be traced to explain it. If he had wished to retire- 
people wondered— why hadn't he sold his establishment at a huge profit, as he 
could have done, instead of destroying it? There was nobody to give an 
answer. He had no family, no friends. 

His servants knew nothing: he had left his home that morning as usual and 
did not come back; that was all. 

There was— Dagny had thought uneasily for years— a quality of the impossible 
about Mulligan's disappearance; it was as if a New York skyscraper had 
vanished one night, leaving nothing behind but a vacant lot on a street 
corner. A man like Mulligan, and a fortune such as he had taken along with 
him, could not stay hidden anywhere; a skyscraper could not get lost, it 
would be seen rising above any plain or forest chosen for its hiding place; 
were it destroyed, even its pile of rubble could not remain unnoticed. But 
Mulligan had gone— and in the seven years since, in the mass of rumors, 
guesses, theories, Sunday supplement stories, and eyewitnesses who claimed to 
have seen him in every part of the world, no clue to a plausible explanation 
had ever been discovered. 

Among the stories, there was one so preposterously out of character that 
Dagny believed it to be true: nothing in Mulligan's nature could have given 
anyone ground to invent it. It was said that the last person to see him, on 
the spring morning of his disappearance, was an old woman who sold flowers on 
a Chicago street corner by the Mulligan Bank. She related that he stopped and 
bought a bunch of the year's first bluebells. His face was the happiest face 
she had ever seen; he had the look of a youth starting out into a great, 
unobstructed vision of life lying open before him; the marks of pain and 
tension, the sediment of years upon a human face, had been wiped off, and 
what remained was only joyous eagerness and peace. He picked up the flowers 
as if on a sudden impulse, and he winked at the old woman, as if he had some 
shining joke to share with her. He said, "Do you know how much I've always 
loved it— being alive?" She stared at him, bewildered, and he walked away, 
tossing the flowers like a ball in his hand— a broad, straight figure in a 

sedate, expensive, businessman's overcoat, going off into the distance 
against the straight cliffs of office buildings with the spring sun sparkling 
on their windows. 

"Midas Mulligan was a vicious bastard with a dollar sign stamped on his 
heart," said Lee Hunsacker, in the fumes of the acrid stew. "My whole future 
depended upon a miserable half-million dollars, which was just small change 
to him, bat when I applied for a loan, he turned me down flat— for no better 
reason than that I had no collateral to offer. 

How could I have accumulated any collateral, when nobody had ever given me 
a chance at anything big? Why did he lend money to others, but not to me? It 
was plain discrimination. He didn't even care about my feelings— he said that 
my past record of failures disqualified me for ownership of a vegetable 
pushcart, let alone a motor factory. What failures? I couldn't help it if a 
lot of ignorant grocers refused to co-operate with me about the paper 
containers. By what right did he pass judgment on my ability? Why did my 
plans for my own future have to depend upon the arbitrary opinion of a 
selfish monopolist? I wasn't going to stand for that. I wasn't going to take 
it lying down. I brought suit against him." 

"You did what?" 

"Oh yes," he said proudly, "I brought suit. I'm sure it would seem strange 
in some of your hidebound Eastern states, but the state of Illinois had a 
very humane, very progressive law under which I could sue him. I must say it 
was the first case of its kind, but I had a very smart, liberal lawyer who 
saw a way for us to do it. It was an economic emergency law which said that 
people were forbidden to discriminate for any reason whatever against any 
person in any matter involving his livelihood. It was used to protect day 
laborers and such, but it applied to me and my partners as well, didn't it? 
So we went to court, and we testified about the bad breaks we'd all had in 
the past, and I quoted Mulligan saying that I couldn't even own a vegetable 
pushcart, and we proved that all the members of the Amalgamated Service 
corporation had no prestige, no credit, no way to make a living —and, 
therefore, the purchase of the motor factory was our only chance of 
livelihood— and, therefore, Midas Mulligan had no right to discriminate 
against us— and, therefore, we were entitled to demand a loan from him under 
the law. Oh, we had a perfect case all right, but the man who presided at the 
trial was Judge Narragansett, one of those old-fashioned monks of the bench 
who thinks like a mathematician and never feels the human side of anything. 
He just sat there all through the trial like a marble statue— like one of 
those blindfolded marble statues, At the end, he instructed the jury to bring 
in a verdict in favor of Midas Mulligan— and he said some very harsh things 
about me and my partners. But we appealed to a higher court— and the higher 
court reversed the verdict and ordered Mulligan to give us the loan on our 
terms. He had three months in which to comply, but before the three months 
were up, something happened that nobody can figure out and he vanished into 
thin air, he and his bank. There wasn't an extra penny left of that bank, to 
collect our lawful claim. We wasted a lot of money on detectives, trying to 
find him— as who didn't?— but we gave it up." 

No— thought Dagny— no, apart from the sickening feeling it gave her, this 
case was not much worse than any of the other things that Midas Mulligan had 
borne for years. He had taken many losses under laws of a similar justice, 
under rules and edicts that had cost him much larger sums of money; he had 
borne them and fought and worked the harder; it was not likely that this case 
had broken him. 

"What happened to Judge Narragansett?" she asked involuntarily, and 
wondered what subconscious connection had made her ask it. She knew little 
about Judge Narragansett, but she had heard and remembered his name, because 

it was a name that belonged so exclusively to the North American continent. 
Now she realized suddenly that she had heard nothing about him for years. 

"Oh, he retired," said Lee Hunsacker. 

"He did?" The question was almost a gasp. 

"Yeah. " 


"Oh, about six months later." 
"What did he do after he retired?" 

"I don't know. I don't think anybody's heard from him since." 

He wondered why she looked frightened. Part of the fear she felt, was that 
she could not name its reason, either. "Please tell me about the motor 
factory," she said with effort. 

"Well, Eugene Lawson of the Community National Bank in Madison finally 
gave us a loan to buy the factory— but he was just a messy cheapskate, he 
didn't have enough money to see us through, he couldn't help us when we went 
bankrupt. It was not our fault. We had everything against us from the start. 
How could we run a factory when we had no railroad? Weren't we entitled to a 
railroad? I tried to get them to reopen their branch line, but those damn 
people at Taggart Trans—" 

He stopped. "Say, are you by any chance one of those Taggarts?" 

"I am the Operating Vice-President of Taggart Transcontinental." 

For a moment, he stared at her in blank stupor; she saw the struggle of 
fear, obsequiousness and hatred in his filmy eyes. The result was a sudden 
snarl: "I don't need any of you big shots! Don't think I'm going to be afraid 
of you. Don't expect me to beg for a job. I'm not asking favors of anybody. I 
bet you're not used to hear people talk to you this way, are you?" 

"Mr. Hunsacker, I will appreciate it very much if you will give me the 
information I need about the factory." 

"You're a little late getting interested. What's the matter? Your 
conscience bothering you? You people let Jed Starnes grow filthy rich on that 
factory, but you wouldn't give us a break. It was the same factory. 

We did everything he did. We started right in manufacturing the particular 
type of motor that had been his biggest money-maker for years. And then some 
newcomer nobody ever heard of opened a two bit factory down in Colorado, by 
the name of Nielsen Motors, and put out a new motor of the same class as the 
Starnes model, at half the price! We couldn't help that, could we? It was all 
right for Jed Starnes, no destructive competitor happened to come up in his 
time, but what were we to do? How could we fight this Nielsen, when nobody 
had given us a motor to compete with his?" 

"Did you take over the Starnes research laboratory?" 

"Yes, yes, it was there. Everything was there." 

"His staff, too?" 

"Oh, some of them. A lot of them had gone while the factory was closed." 
"His research staff?" 
"They were gone." 

"Did you hire any research men of your own?" 

"Yes, yes, some— but let me tell you, I didn't have much money to spend on 
such things as laboratories, when I never had enough funds to give me a 
breathing spell. I couldn't even pay the bills I owed for the absolutely 
essential modernizing and redecorating which I'd had to do —that factory was 
disgracefully old-fashioned from the standpoint of human efficiency. The 
executive offices had bare plaster walls and a dinky little washroom. Any 
modern psychologist will tell you that nobody could do his best in such 
depressing surroundings. I had to have a brighter color scheme in my office, 
and a decent modern bathroom with a stall shower. Furthermore, I spent a lot 
of money on a new cafeteria and a playroom and rest room for the workers. We 
had to have morale, didn't we? Any enlightened person knows that man is made 

by the material factors of his background, and that a man's mind is shaped by 
his tools of production. But people wouldn't wait for the laws of economic 
determinism to operate upon us. We never had a motor factory before. We had 
to let the tools condition our minds, didn't we? But nobody gave us time." 
"Can you tell me about the work of your research staff?" 

"Oh, I had a group of very promising young men, all of them guaranteed by 
diplomas from the best universities. But it didn't do me any good. I don't 
know what they were doing. I think they were just sitting around, eating up 
their salaries." 

"Who was in charge of your laboratory?" 

"Hell, how can I remember that now?" 

"Do you remember any of the names of your research staff?" 
"Do you think I had time to meet every hireling in person?" 
"Did any of them ever mention to you any experiments with a . . . 
with an entirely new kind of motor?" 

"What motor? Let me tell you that an executive of my position does not 
hang around laboratories. I spent most of my time in New York and Chicago, 
trying to raise money to keep us going." 

"Who was the general manager of tie factory?" 

"A very able fellow by the name of Roy Cunningham. He died last year in an 
auto accident. Drunk driving, they said." 

"Can you give me the names and addresses of any of your associates? Anyone 
you remember?" 

"I don't know what's become of them. I wasn't in a mood to keep track of 
that. " 

"Have you preserved any of the factory records?" 
"I certainly have." 

She sat up eagerly. "Would you let me see them?" 
"You bet ! " 

He seemed eager to comply; he rose at once and hurried out of the room. 
What he put down before her, when he returned, was a thick album of 
clippings: it contained his newspaper interviews and his press agent's 
releases . 

"I was one of the big industrialists, too," he said proudly. "I was a 
national figure, as you can see. My life will make a book of deep, human 
significance. I'd have written it long ago, if I had the proper tools of 
production." He banged angrily upon his typewriter. "I can't work on this 
damn thing. It skips spaces. How can I get any inspiration and write a best 
seller with a typewriter that skips spaces?" 

"Thank you, Mr. Hunsacker, " she said. "I believe this is all you can tell 
me." She rose. "You don't happen to know what became of the Starnes heirs?" 

"Oh, they ran for cover after they'd wrecked the factory. There were three 
of them, two sons and a daughter. Last I heard, they were hiding their faces 
out in Durance, Louisiana." 

The last sight she caught of Lee Hunsacker, as she turned to go, was his 
sudden leap to the stove; he seized the lid off the pot and dropped it to the 
floor, scorching his fingers and cursing: the stew was burned. 

Little was left of the Starnes fortune and less of the Starnes heirs. 

"You won't like having to see them, Miss Taggart, " said the chief of 
police of Durance, Louisiana; he was an elderly man with a slow, firm manner 
and a look of bitterness acquired not in blind resentment., but in fidelity 
to clear-cut standards. "There's all sorts of human beings to see in the 
world, there's murderers and criminal maniacs— but, somehow, I think these 
Starnes persons are what decent people shouldn't have to see. They're a bad 
sort, Miss Taggart. Clammy and bad . . . 

Yes, they're still here in town— two of them, that is. The third one is: 
dead. Suicide. That was four years ago. It's an ugly story. He was the 

youngest of the three, Eric Starnes. He was one of those chronic young men 
who go around whining about their sensitive feelings, when they're well past 
forty. He needed love, was his line. He was being kept by older women, when 
he could find them. Then he started running after a girl of sixteen, a nice 
girl who wouldn't have anything to do with him. 

She married a boy she was engaged to. Eric Starnes got into their house on 
the wedding day, and when they came back from church after the ceremony, they 
found him in their bedroom, dead, messy dead, his wrists slashed. . . . Now I 
say there might be forgiveness for a man who kills himself quietly. Who can 
pass judgment on another man's suffering and on the limit of what he can 
bear? But the man who kills himself, making a show of his death in order to 
hurt somebody, the man who gives his life for malice— there ' s no forgiveness 
for him, no excuse, he's rotten clear through, and what he deserves is that 
people spit at his memory, instead of feeling sorry for him and hurt, as he 
wanted them to be. . . . Well, that was Eric Starnes. I can tell you where to 
find the other two, if you wish." 

She found Gerald Starnes in the ward of a flophouse. He lay half twisted 
on a cot. His hair was still black, but the white stubble of his chin was 
like a mist of dead weeds over a vacant face. He was soggy drunk. A pointless 
chuckle kept breaking his voice when he spoke, the sound of a static, 
unfocused malevolence, "It went bust, the great factory. That's what happened 
to it. Just went up and bust. Does that bother you, madam? The factory was 
rotten. Everybody is rotten. I'm supposed to beg somebody's pardon, but I 
won't. I don't give a damn. People get fits trying to keep up the show, when 
it's all rot, black rot, the automobiles, the buildings and the souls, and it 
doesn't make any difference, one way or another. You should've seen the kind 
of literati who turned flip-flops when I whistled, when I had the dough. The 
professors, the poets, the intellectuals, the world-savers and the brother- 
lovers. Any way I whistled. I had lots of fun. I wanted to do good, but now I 
don't. There isn't any good. Not any goddamn good in the whole goddamn 
universe. I don't propose to take a bath if I don't feel like it, and that's 
that. If you want to know anything about the factory, ask my sister. My sweet 
sister who had a trust fund they couldn't touch, so she got out of it safe, 
even if she's in the hamburger class now, not the filet mignon a la Sauce 
Bearnaise, but would she give a penny of it to her brother? The noble plan 
that busted was her idea as much as mine, but will she give me a penny? 

Hah! Go take a look at the duchess, take a look. What do I care about the 
factory? It was just a pile of greasy machinery. I'll sell you all my rights, 
claims and title to it— for a drink. I'm the last of the Starnes name. It used 
to be a great name— Starnes . I'll sell it to you. You think I'm a stinking 
bum, but that goes for all the rest of them and for rich ladies like you, 
too. I wanted to do good for humanity. Hah! I wish they'd all boil in oil. Be 
lots of fun. I wish they'd choke. What does it matter? What does anything 

On the next cot, a white-haired, shriveled little tramp turned in his 
sleep, moaning; a nickel clattered to the floor out of his rags. Gerald 
Starnes picked it up and slipped it into his own pocket. He glanced at Dagny. 
The creases of his face were a malignant smile. 

"Want to wake him up and start trouble?" he asked. "If you do, I'll say 
that you're lying." 

The ill-smelling bungalow, where she found Ivy Starnes, stood on the edge 
of town, by the shore of the Mississippi. Hanging strands of moss and clots 
of waxy foliage made the thick vegetation look as if it were drooling; the 
too many draperies, hanging in the stagnant air of a small room, had the same 
look. The smell came from undusted corners and from incense burning in silver 
jars at the feet of contorted Oriental deities. Ivy Starnes sat on a pillow 
like a baggy Buddha. Her mouth was a tight little crescent, the petulant 

mouth of a child demanding adulation— on the spreading, pallid face of a woman 
past fifty. Her eyes were two lifeless puddles of water. Her voice had the 
even, dripping monotone of rain: "I can't answer the kind of questions you're 
asking, my girl. The research laboratory? The engineers? Why should I 
remember anything about them? It was my father who was concerned with such 
matters, not I, My father was an evil man who cared for nothing but business. 

He had no time for love, only for money. My brothers and I lived on a 
different plane. Our aim was not to produce gadgets, but to do good. 

We brought a great, new plan into the factory. It was eleven years ago. 

We were defeated by the greed, the selfishness and the base, animal nature 
of men. It was the eternal conflict between spirit and matter, between soul 
and body. They would not renounce their bodies, which was all we asked of 
them. I do not remember any of those men. I do not care to remember. . . . 
The engineers? I believe it was they who started the hemophilia. . . . Yes, 
that is what I said: the hemophilia— 

the slow leak— the loss of blood that cannot be stopped. They ran first. 

They deserted us, one after another . . . Our plan? We put into practice 
that noble historical precept: From each according to his ability, to each 
according to his need. Everybody in the factory, from charwomen to president, 
received the same salary— the barest minimum necessary. 

Twice a year, we all gathered in a mass meeting, where every person 
presented his claim for what he believed to be his needs. We voted on every 
claim, and the will of the majority established every person's need and every 
person's ability. The income of the factory was distributed accordingly. 
Rewards were based on need, and penalties on ability. Those whose needs were 
voted to be the greatest, received the most. Those who had not produced as 
much as the vote said they could, were fined and had to pay the fines by 
working overtime without pay. 

That was our plan. It was based on the principle of selflessness. It 
required men to be motivated, not by personal gain, but by love for their 
brothers . " 

Dagny heard a cold, implacable voice saying somewhere within her: Remember 
it— remember it well— it is not often that one can see pure evil— look at it- 
remember— and some day you'll find the words to name its essence. . . . She 
heard it through the screaming of other voices that cried in helpless 
violence: It's nothing— I've heard it before —I'm hearing it everywhere— it ' s 
nothing but the same old tripe- 
why can't I stand it?— I can't stand it— I can't stand it! 

"What's the matter with you, my girl? Why did you jump up like that? Why 
are you shaking? . . . What? Do speak louder, I can't hear you. . . . How did 
the plan work out? I do not care to discuss it. 

Things became very ugly indeed and went fouler every year. It has cost me 
my faith in human nature. In four years, a plan conceived, not by the cold 
calculations of the mind, but by the pure love of the heart, was brought to 
an end in the sordid mess of policemen, lawyers and bankruptcy proceedings. 
But I have seen my error and I am free of it, I am through with the world of 
machines, manufacturers and money, the world enslaved by matter. I am 
learning the emancipation of the spirit, as revealed in the great secrets of 
India, the release from bondage to flesh, the victory over physical nature, 
the triumph of the spirit over matter." 

Through the blinding white glare of anger, Dagny was seeing a long strip 
of concrete that had been a road, with weeds rising from its cracks, and the 
figure of a man contorted by a hand plow. 

"But, my girl, I said that I do not remember. . . . But I do not know 
their names, I do not know any names, I do not know what sort of adventurers 
my father may have had in that laboratory! . . . 

Don't you hear me? ... I am not accustomed to being questioned in such 
manner and . . . Don't keep repeating it. Don't you know any words but 
'engineer'? . . . Don't you hear me at all? . . . What's the matter with you? 
I— I don't like your face, you're . . . Leave me alone. I don't know who you 
are, I've never hurt you, I'm an old woman, don't look at me like that, I . . 
. Stand back! Don't come near me or I'll call for help! I'll . . . Oh, yes, 
yes, I know that one! 

The chief engineer. Yes. He was the head of the laboratory. Yes. 

William Hastings. That was his name— William Hastings. I remember. 

He went off to Brandon, Wyoming. He quit the day after we introduced the 
plan. He was the second man to quit us. . . .No. No, I don't remember who 
was the first. He wasn't anybody important." 

The woman who opened the door had graying hair and a poised, distinguished 
look of grooming; it took Dagny a few seconds to realize that her garment was 
only a simple cotton housedress, "May I see Mr. William Hastings?" asked 
Dagny . 

The woman looked at her for the briefest instant of a pause; it was an odd 
glance, inquiring and grave. "May I ask your name?" 

"I am Dagny Taggart, of Taggart Transcontinental." 

"Oh. Please come in, Miss Taggart. I am Mrs. William Hastings." 

The measured tone of gravity went through every syllable of her voice, 
like a warning. Her manner was courteous, but she did not smile. 

It was a modest home in the suburbs of an industrial town. Bare tree 
branches cut across the bright, cold blue of the sky, on the top of the rise 
that led to the house. The walls of the living room were silver-gray; 
sunlight hit the crystal stand of a lamp with a white shade; beyond an open 
door, a breakfast nook was papered in red-dotted white. 

"Were you acquainted with my husband in business, Miss Taggart?" 

"No. I have never met Mr. Hastings. But I should like to speak to him on a 
matter of business of crucial importance." 

"My husband died five years ago, Miss Taggart." 

Dagny closed her eyes; the dull, sinking shock contained the conclusions 
she did not have to make in words: This, then, had been the man she was 
seeking, and Rearden had been right; this was why the motor had been left 
unclaimed on a junk pile. 

"I'm sorry," she said, both to Mrs. Hastings and to herself. 

The suggestion of a smile on Mrs. Hastings' face held sadness, but the 
face had no imprint of tragedy, only a grave look of firmness, acceptance and 
quiet serenity. 

"Mrs. Hastings, would you permit me to ask you a few questions?" 
"Certainly. Please sit down." 

"Did you have some knowledge of your husband's scientific work?" 
"Very little. None, really. He never discussed it at home." 
"He was, at one time, chief engineer of the Twentieth Century Motor 
Company? " 

"Yes. He had been employed by them for eighteen years." 

"I wanted to ask Mr. Hastings about his work there and the reason why he 
gave it up. If you can tell me, I would like to know what happened in that 
factory . " 

The smile of sadness and humor appeared fully on Mrs. Hastings' 

face. "That is what I would like to know myself," she said. "But I'm 
afraid I shall never learn it now. I know why he left the factory. It was 
because of an outrageous scheme which the heirs of led Starnes established 
there. He would not work on such terms or for such people. 

But there was something else. I've always felt that something happened at 
Twentieth Century Motors, which he would not tell me." 

"I'm extremely anxious to know any clue you may care to give me." 

"I have no clue to it. I've tried to guess and given up. I cannot 
understand or explain it. But I know that something happened. 

When my husband left Twentieth Century, we came here and he took a job as 
head of the engineering department of Acme Motors. It was a growing, 
successful concern at the time. It gave my husband the kind of work he liked. 
He was not a person prone to inner conflicts, he had always been sure of his 
actions and at peace with himself. But for a whole year after we left 
Wisconsin, he acted as if he were tortured by something, as if he were 
struggling with a personal problem he could not solve. At the end of that 
year, he came to me one morning and told me that he had resigned from Acme 
Motors, that he was retiring and would not work anywhere else. He loved his 
work; it was his whole life. Yet he looked calm, self-confident and happy, 
for the first time since we'd come here. He asked me not to question him 
about the reason of his decision. I didn't question him and I didn't object. 
We had this house, we had our savings, we had enough to live on modestly for 
the rest of our days. I never learned his reason. We went on living here, 
quietly and very happily. He seemed to feel a profound contentment. He had an 
odd serenity of spirit that I had never seen in him before. There was nothing 
strange in his behavior or activity— except that at times, Very rarely, he 
went out without telling me where he went or whom he saw. In the last two 
years of his life, he went away for one month, each summer; he did not tell 
me where. Otherwise, he lived as he always had. He studied a great deal and 
he spent his time on engineering research of his own, working in the basement 
of our house. I don't know what he did with his notes and experimental 
models. I found no trace of them in the basement, after his death. 

He died five years ago, of a heart ailment from which he had suffered for 
some time." 

Dagny asked hopelessly, "Did you know the nature of his experiments?" 
"No. I know very little about engineering." 

"Did you know any of his professional friends or co-workers, who might 
have been acquainted with his research?" 

"No. When he was at Twentieth Century Motors, he worked such long hours 
that we had very little time for ourselves and we spent it together. We had 
no social life at all. He never brought his associates to the house." 

"When he was at Twentieth Century, did he ever mention to you a motor he 
had designed, an entirely new type of motor that could have changed the 
course of all industry?" 

"A motor? Yes. Yes, he spoke of it several times. He said it was an 
invention of incalculable importance. But it was not he who had designed it. 
It was the invention of a young assistant of his." 

She saw the expression on Dagny 's face, and added slowly, quizzically, 
without reproach, merely in sad amusement, "I see." 

"Oh, I'm sorry!" said Dagny, realizing that her emotion had shot to her 
face and become a smile as obvious as a cry of relief. 

"It's quite all right. I understand. It's the inventor of that motor that 
you're interested in. I don't know whether he is still alive, but at least I 
have no reason to think that he isn't." 

"I'd give half my life to know that he is— and to find him. It's as 
important as that, Mrs. Hastings. Who is he?" 

"I don't know. I don't know his name or anything about him. I never knew 
any of the men on my husband's staff. He told me only that he had a young 
engineer who, some day, would up-turn the world. 

My husband did not care for anything in people except ability. I think 
this was the only man he ever loved. He didn't say so, but I could tell it, 
just by the way he spoke of this young assistant. I remember— the day he told 
me that the motor was completed— how his voice sounded when he said, 'And he's 

only twenty-six! ' This was about a month before the death of Jed Starnes. He 
never mentioned the motor or the young engineer, after that." 

"You don't know what became of the young engineer?" 

"No . " 

"You can't suggest any way to find him?" 
"No . " 

"You have no clue, no lead to help me learn his name?" 
"None. Tell me, was that motor extremely valuable?" 
"More valuable than any estimate I could give you." 

"It's strange, because, you see, I thought of it once, some years after 
we'd left Wisconsin, and I asked my husband what had become of that invention 
he'd said was so great, what would be done with it. 

He looked at me very oddly and answered, 'Nothing.' " 


"He wouldn't tell me." 

"Can you remember anyone at all who worked at Twentieth Century? Anyone 
who knew that young engineer? Any friend of his?" 

"No, I . . . Wait! Wait, I think I can give you a lead. I can tell you 
where to find one friend of his. I don't even know that friend's name, 
either, but I know his address. It's an odd story. I'd better explain how it 
happened. One evening— about two years after we'd come here— my husband was 
going out and I needed our car that night, so he asked me to pick him up 
after dinner at the restaurant of the railroad station. He did not tell me 
with whom he was having dinner. When I drove up to the station, I saw him 
standing outside the restaurant with two men. One of them was young and tall. 
The other was elderly; he looked very distinguished. I would still recognize 
those men anywhere; they had the kind of faces one doesn't forget. My husband 
saw me and left them. They walked away toward the station platform; there was 
a train coming. My husband pointed after the young man and said, 'Did you see 
him? That's the boy I told you about . 1 'The one who's the great maker of 
motors?' The one who was.' " 

"And he told you nothing else?" 

"Nothing else. This was nine years ago. Last spring, I went to visit my 
brother who lives in Cheyenne. One afternoon, he took the family out for a 
long drive. We went up into pretty wild country, high in the Rockies, and we 
stopped at a roadside diner. There was a distinguished, gray-haired man 
behind the counter. I kept staring at him while he fixed our sandwiches and 
coffee, because I knew that I had seen his face before, but could not 
remember where. We drove on, we were miles away from the diner, when I 
remembered. You'd better go there. 

It's on Route 86, in the mountains, west of Cheyenne, near a small 
industrial settlement by the Lennox Copper Foundry. It seems strange, but I'm 
certain of it: the cook in that diner is the man I saw at the railroad 
station with my husband's young idol." 

The diner stood on the summit of a long, hard climb. Its glass walls 
spread a coat of polish over the view of rocks and pines descending in broken 
ledges to the sunset. It was dark below, but an even, glowing light still 
remained in the diner, as in a small pool left behind by a receding tide. 

Dagny sat at the end of the counter, eating a hamburger sandwich. 

It was the best-cooked food she had ever tasted, the product of simple 
ingredients and of an unusual skill. Two workers were finishing their dinner; 
she was waiting for them to depart. 

She studied the man behind the counter. He was slender and tall; he had an 
air of distinction that belonged in an ancient castle or in the inner office 
of a bank; but his peculiar quality came from the fact that he made the 
distinction seem appropriate here, behind the counter of a diner. He wore a 
cook's white jacket as if it were a full-dress suit. There was an expert 

competence in his manner of working; his movements were easy, intelligently 
economical. He had a lean face and gray hair that blended in tone with the 
cold blue of his eyes; somewhere beyond his look of courteous sternness, 
there was a note of humor, so faint that it vanished if one tried to discern 

The two workers finished, paid and departed, each leaving a dime for a 
tip. She watched the man as he removed their dishes, put the dimes into the 
pocket of his white jacket, wiped the counter, working with swift precision. 
Then he turned and looked at her. It was an impersonal glance, not intended 
to invite conversation; but she felt certain that he had long since noted her 
New York suit, her high-heeled pumps, her air of being a woman who did not 
waste her time; his cold, observant eyes seemed to tell her that he knew she 
did not belong here and that he was waiting to discover her purpose. 

"How is business?" she asked. 

"Pretty bad. They're going to close the Lennox Foundry next week, so I'll 
have to close soon, too, and move on." His voice was clear, impersonally 
cordial . 

"Where to?" 

"1 haven't decided." 

"What sort of thing do you have in mind?" 

"I don't know. I'm thinking of opening a garage, if I can find the right 
spot in some town." 

"Oh no! You're too good at your job to change it. You shouldn't want to be 
anything but a cook." 

A strange, fine smile moved the curve of his mouth. "No?" he asked 
courteously . 

"No! How would you like a job in New York?" He looked at her, astonished. 
"I'm serious. I can give you a job on a big railroad, in charge of the 
dining-car department." 

"May I ask why you should want to?" 

She raised the hamburger sandwich in its white paper napkin. 
"There's one of the reasons." 
"Thank you. What are the others?" 

'T don't suppose you've lived in a big city, or you'd know how miserably 
difficult it is to find any competent men for any job whatever." 
"I know a little about that." 

"Well? How about it, then? Would you like a job in New York at ten 
thousand dollars a year?" 
"No. " 

She had been carried away by the joy of discovering and rewarding ability. 
She looked at him silently, shocked. "I don't think you understood me," she 

"I did." 

"You're refusing an opportunity of this kind?" 
"Yes . " 
"But why?" 

"That is a personal matter." 

"Why should you work like this, when you can have a better job?" 

"I am not looking for a better job." 

"You don't want a chance to rise and make money?" 

"No. Why do you insist?" 

"Because I hate to see ability being wasted!" 
He said slowly, intently, "So do I." 

Something in the way he said it made her feel the bond of some profound 
emotion which they held in common; it broke the discipline that forbade her 
ever to call for help. "I'm so sick of them!" Her voice startled hen it was 

an involuntary cry. "I'm so hungry for any sight of anyone who's able to do 
whatever it is he's doing!" 

She pressed the back of her hand to her eyes, trying to dam the outbreak 
of a despair she had not permitted herself to acknowledge; she had not known 
the extent of it, nor how little of her endurance the quest had left her. 

"I'm sorry," he said, his voice low. It sounded, not as an apology, but as 
a statement of compassion. 

She glanced up at him. He smiled, and she knew that the smile was intended 
to break the bond which he, too, had felt: the smile had a trace of courteous 
mockery. He said, "But I don't believe that you came all the way from New 
York just to hunt for railroad cooks in the Rockies." 

"No. I came for something else." She leaned forward, both forearms braced 
firmly against the counter, feeling calm and in tight control again, sensing 
a dangerous adversary. "Did you know, about ten years ago, a young engineer 
who worked for the Twentieth Century Motor Company?" 

She counted the seconds of a pause; she could not define the nature of the 
way he looked at her, except that it was the look of some special 
attentiveness . 

"Yes, I did, " he answered. 

"Could you give me his name and address?" 

"What for?" 

"It's crucially important that I find him." 
"That man? Of what importance is he?" 
"He is the most important man in the world." 
"Really? Why?" 

"Did you know anything about his work?" 

"Did you know that he hit upon an idea of the most tremendous 

He let a moment pass. "May I ask who you are?" 
"Dagny Taggart. I'm the Vice-Pres— " 
"Yes, Miss Taggart. I know who you are." 

He said it with impersonal deference. But he looked as if he had found the 
answer to some special question in his mind and was not astonished any 
longer . 

"Then you know that my interest is not idle," she said. "I'm in a position 
to give him the chance he needs and I'm prepared to pay anything he asks." 
"May I ask what has aroused your interest in him?" 
"His motor . " 

"How did you happen to know about his motor?" 

"I found a broken remnant of it in the ruins of the Twentieth Century 
factory. Not enough to reconstruct it or to learn how it worked, But enough 
to know that it did work and that it's an invention which can save my 
railroad, the country and the economy of the whole world. 

Don't ask me to tell you now what trail I've followed, trying to trace 
that motor and to find its inventor. That's not of any importance, even my 
life and work are not of any importance to me right now, nothing is of any 
importance, except that I must find him. Don't ask me how I happened to come 
to you. You're the end of the trail. Tell me his name." 

He had listened without moving, looking straight at her; the attentiveness 
of his eyes seemed to take hold of every word and store it carefully away, 
giving her no clue to his purpose. He did not move for a long time. Then he 
said, "Give it up, Miss Taggart. You won't find him." 

"What is his name?" 

"I can tell you nothing about him." 

"Is he still alive?" 

"I can tell you nothing." 

"What is your name?" 
"Hugh Akston." 

Through the blank seconds of recapturing her mind, she kept telling 
herself: You're hysterical . . . don't be preposterous . . . it's just a 
coincidence of names— while she knew, in certainty and numb, inexplicable 
terror, that this was the Hugh Akston. 

"Hugh Akston?" she stammered. "The philosopher? . . . The last of the 
advocates of reason?" 

"Why, yes," he answered pleasantly. "Or the first of their return." 

He did not seem startled by her shock, but he seemed to find it 
unnecessary. His manner was simple, almost friendly, as if he felt no need to 
hide his identity and no resentment at its being discovered. 

"I didn't think that any young person would recognize my name or attach 
any significance to it, nowadays," he said. 

"But . . . but what are you doing here?" Her arm swept at the room. "This 
doesn't make sense!" 

"Are you sure?" 

"What is it? A stunt? An experiment? A secret mission? Are you studying 
something for some special purpose?" 

"No, Miss Taggart. I'm earning my living." The words and the voice had the 
genuine simplicity of truth, "Dr. Akston, I . . .it's inconceivable, it's . 
. . You're . . . you're a philosopher . . . the greatest philosopher living . 
. . an immortal name . . . why would you do this?" 

"Because I am a philosopher, Miss Taggart." 

She knew with certainty— even though she felt as if her capacity for 
certainty and for understanding were gone— that she would obtain no help from 
him, that questions were useless, that he would give her no explanation, 
neither of the inventor's fate nor of his own. 

"Give it up, Miss Taggart, " he said quietly, as if giving proof that he 
could guess her thoughts, as she had known he would. "It is a hopeless quest, 
the more hopeless because you have no inkling of what an impossible task you 
have chosen to undertake. I would like to spare you the strain of trying to 
devise some argument, trick or plea that would make me give you the 
information you are seeking. Take my word for it: it can't be done. You said 
I'm the end of your trail. It's a blind alley, Miss Taggart, Do not attempt 
to waste your money and effort on other, more conventional methods of 
inquiry: do not hire detectives. They will learn nothing. You may choose to 
ignore my warning, but I think that you are a person of high intelligence, 
able to know that I know what I am saying. Give it up. The secret you are 
trying to solve involves something greater— much greater— than the invention of 
a motor run by atmospheric electricity. There is only one helpful suggestion 
that I can give you: By the essence and nature of existence, contradictions 
cannot exist. If you find it inconceivable that an invention of genius should 
be abandoned among ruins, and that a philosopher should wish to work as a 
cook in a diner— check your premises. You will find that one of them is 
wrong . " 

She started: she remembered that she had heard this before and that it was 
Francisco who had said it. And then she remembered that this man had been one 
of Francisco's teachers. 

"As you wish, Dr. Akston," she said. "I won't attempt to question you 
about it. But would you permit me to ask you a question on an entirely 
different subject?" 

"Certainly. " 

"Dr. Robert Stadler once told me that when you were at the Patrick Henry 
University, you had three students who were your favorites and his, three 
brilliant minds from whom you expected a great future. One of them was 
Francisco d'Anconia." 

"Yes. Another was Ragnar Danneskj old . " 

" Incidentally— this is not my question— who was the third?" 
"His name would mean nothing to you. He is not famous." 

"Dr. Stadler said that you and he were rivals over these three students, 
because you both regarded them as your sons." 
"Rivals? He lost them." 

"Tell me, are you proud of the way these three have turned out?" 

He looked off, into the distance, at the dying fire of the sunset on the 
farthest rocks; his face had the look of a father who watches his sons 
bleeding on a battlefield. He answered: "More proud than I had ever hoped to 
be, " 

It was almost dark. He turned sharply, took a package of cigarettes from 
his pocket, pulled out one cigarette, but stopped, remembering her presence, 
as if he had forgotten it for a moment, and extended the package to her. She 
took a cigarette and he struck the brief flare of a match, then shook it out, 
leaving only two small points of fire in the darkness of a glass room and of 
miles of mountains beyond it. 

She rose, paid her bill, and said, "Thank you, Dr. Akston. I will not 
molest you with tricks or pleas. I will not hire detectives. But I think I 
should tell you that I will not give up, I must find the inventor of that 
motor. I will find him." 

"Not until the day when he chooses to find you— as he will." 

When she walked to her car, he switched on the lights in the diner, she 
saw the mailbox by the side of the road and noted the incredible fact that 
the name "Hugh Akston" stood written openly across it. 

She had driven far down the winding road, and the lights of the diner were 
long since out of sight, when she noticed that she was enjoying the taste of 
the cigarette he had given her: it was different from any she had ever smoked 
before. She held the small remnant to the light of the dashboard, looking for 
the name of the brand. There was no name, only a trademark. Stamped in gold 
on the thin, white paper there stood the sign of the dollar. 

She examined it curiously: she had never heard of that brand before. 

Then she remembered the old man at the cigar stand of the Taggart 
Terminal, and smiled, thinking that this was a specimen for his collection. 
She stamped out the fire and dropped the butt into her handbag. 

Train Number 57 was lined along the track, ready to leave for Wyatt 
Junction, when she reached Cheyenne, left her car at the garage where she had 
rented it, and walked out on the platform of the Taggart station. She had 
half an hour to wait for the eastbound main liner to New York. She walked to 
the end of the platform and leaned wearily against a lamppost; she did not 
want to be seen and recognized by the station employees, she did not want to 
talk to anyone, she needed rest. A few people stood in clusters on the half- 
deserted platform; animated conversations seemed to be going on, and 
newspapers were more prominently in evidence than usual. 

She looked at the lighted windows of Train Number 57— for a moment's relief 
in the sight of a victorious achievement. Train Number 57 was about to start 
down the track of the John Gait Line, through the towns, through the curves 
of the mountains, past the green signals where people had stood cheering and 
the valleys where rockets had risen to the summer sky. Twisted remnants of 
leaves now hung on the branches beyond the train's roof line, and the 
passengers wore furs and mufflers, as they climbed aboard. They moved with 
the casual manner of a daily event, with the security of expecting a 
performance long since taken for granted. . . . We've done it— she thought— 
this much, at least, is done. 

It was the chance conversation of two men somewhere behind her that came 
beating suddenly against her closed attention. 

"But laws shouldn't be passed that way, so quickly." 

"They're not laws, they're directives." 
"Then it's illegal." 

"It's not illegal, because the Legislature passed a law last month giving 
him the power to issue directives." 

"I don't think directives should be sprung on people that way, out of the 
blue, like a punch in the nose." 

"Well, there's no time to palaver when it's a national emergency." 

"But I don't think it's right and it doesn't jibe. How is Rearden going to 
do it, when it says here—" 

"Why should you worry about Rearden? He's rich enough. He can find a way 
to do anything." 

Then she leaped to the first newsstand in sight and seized a copy of the 
evening paper. 

It was on the front page. Wesley Mouch, Top Co-ordinator of the Bureau of 
Economic Planning and National Resources, "in a surprise move," said the 
paper, "and in the name of the national emergency, " 

had issued a set of directives, which were strung in a column down the 
page: The railroads of the country were ordered to reduce the maximum speed 
of all trains to sixty miles per hour— to reduce the maximum length of all 
trains to sixty cars— and to run the same number of trains in every state of a 
zone composed of five neighboring states, the country being divided into such 
zones for the purpose. 

The steel mills of the country were ordered to limit the maximum 
production of any metal alloy to an amount equal to the production of other 
metal alloys by other mills placed in the same classification of plant 
capacity— and to supply a fair share of any metal alloy to all consumers who 
might desire to obtain it. 

All the manufacturing establishments of the country, of any size and 
nature, were forbidden to move from their present locations, except when 
granted a special permission to do so by the Bureau of Economic Planning and 
National Resources. 

To compensate the railroads of the country for the extra costs involved 
and "to cushion the process of readjustment," a moratorium on payments of 
interest and principal on all railroad bonds— secured and unsecured, 
convertible and non-convertible— was declared for a period of five years. 

To provide the funds for the personnel to enforce these directives, a 
special tax was imposed on the state of Colorado, "as the state best able to 
assist the needier states to bear the brunt of the national emergency, " such 
tax to consist of five per cent of the gross sales of Colorado's industrial 
concerns . 

The cry she uttered was one she had never permitted herself before, 
because she made it her pride always to answer it herself— but she saw a man 
standing a few steps away, she did not see that he was a ragged bum, and she 
uttered the cry because it was the plea of reason and he was a human figure: 
"What are we going to do?" 

The bum grinned mirthlessly and shrugged: "Who is John Gait?" 

It was not Taggart Transcontinental that stood as the focus of terror in 
her mind, it was not the thought of Hank Rearden tied to a rack pulled in 
opposite directions— it was Ellis Wyatt. Wiping out the rest, filling her 
consciousness, leaving no room for words, no time for wonder, as a glaring 
answer to the questions she had not begun to ask, stood two pictures: Ellis 
Wyatt ' s implacable figure in front of her desk, saying, "It is now in your 
power to destroy me; I may have to go; but if I go, I'll make sure that I 
take all the rest of you along with me"— 

and the circling violence of Ellis Wyatt ' s body when he flung a glass to 
shatter against the wall. 

The only consciousness the pictures left her was the feeling of the 
approach of some unthinkable disaster, and the feeling that she had to outrun 
it. She had to reach Ellis Wyatt and stop him. She did not know what it was 
that she had to prevent. She knew only that she had to stop him. 

And because, were she lying crushed under the ruins of a building, were 
she torn by the bomb of an air raid, so long as she was still in existence 
she would know that action is man's foremost obligation, regardless of 
anything he feels— she was able to run down the platform and to see the face 
of the stationmaster when she found him— she was able to order: "Hold Number 
57 for me ! "—then to run to the privacy of a telephone booth in the darkness 
beyond the end of the platform, and to give the long-distance operator the 
number of Ellis Wyatt ' s house. 

She stood, propped up by the walls of the booth, her eyes closed, and 
listened to the dead whirl of metal which was the sound of a bell ringing 
somewhere. It brought no answer. The bell kept coming in sudden spasms, like 
a drill going through her ear, through her body. 

She clutched the receiver as if, unheeded, it were still a form of 
contact . 

She wished the bell were louder. She forgot that the sound she heard was 
not the one ringing in his house. She did not know that she was screaming, 
"Ellis, don't! Don't! Don't I"— until she heard the cold, reproving voice of 
the operator say, "Your party does not answer." 

She sat at the window of a coach of Train Number 57, and listened to the 
clicking of the wheels on the rails of Rearden Metal, She sat, unresisting, 
swaying with the motion of the train. The black luster of the window hid the 
countryside she did not want to see. It was her second run on the John Gait 
Line, and she tried not to think of the first. 

The bondholders, she thought, the bondholders of the John Gait Line— it was 
to her honor that they had entrusted their money, the saving and achievement 
of years, it was on her ability that they had staked it, it was on her work 
that they had relied and on their own— 

and she had been made to betray them into a looters' trap: there would be 
no trains and no life-blood of freight, the John Gait Line had been only a 
drainpipe that had permitted Jim Taggart to make a deal and to drain their 
wealth, unearned, into his pocket, in exchange for letting others drain his 
railroad— the bonds of the John Gait Line, which, this morning, had been the 
proud guardians of their owners' security and future, had become in the space 
of an hour, scraps of paper that no one would buy, with no value, no future, 
no power, save the power to close the doors and stop the wheels of the last 
hope of the country— 

and Taggart Transcontinental was not a living plant, fed by blood it had 
worked to produce, but a cannibal of the moment, devouring the unborn 
children of greatness. 

The tax on Colorado, she thought, the tax collected from Ellis Wyatt to 
pay for the livelihood of those whose job was to tie him and make him unable 
to live, those who would stand on guard to see that he got no trains, no tank 
cars, no pipeline of Rearden Metal— Ellis Wyatt, stripped of the right of 
serf-defense, left without voice, without weapons, and worse: made to be the 
tool of his own destruction, the supporter of his own destroyers, the 
provider of their food and of their weapons— Ellis Wyatt being choked, with 
his own bright energy turned against him as the noose— Ellis Wyatt, who had 
wanted to tap an unlimited source of shale oil and who spoke of a Second 
Renaissance. . . . 

She sat bent over, her head on her arms, slumped at the, ledge of the 
window— while the great curves of the green-blue rail, the mountains, the 
valleys, the new towns of Colorado went by in the darkness, unseen. 

The sudden jolt of brakes on wheels threw her upright. It was an 
unscheduled stop, and the platform of the small station was crowded with 
people, all looking off in the same direction. The passengers around her were 
pressing to the windows, staring. She leaped to her feet, she ran down the 
aisle, down the steps, into the cold wind sweeping the platform. 

In the instant before she saw it and her scream cut the voices of the 
crowd, she knew that she had known that which she was to see. In a break 
between mountains, lighting the sky, throwing a glow that swayed on the roofs 
and walls of the station, the hill of Wyatt Oil was a solid sheet of flame. 

Later, when they told her that Ellis Wyatt had vanished, leaving nothing 
behind but a board he had nailed to a post at the foot of the hill, when she 
looked at his handwriting on the board, she felt as if she had almost known 
that these would be the words: "I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. 
It's yours." 



Dr. Robert Stadler paced his office, wishing he would not feel the cold. 
Spring had been late in coming. Beyond the window, the dead gray of the hills 
looked like the smeared transition from the soiled white of the sky to the 
leaden black of the river. Once in a while, a distant patch of hillside 
flared into a silver-yellow that was almost green, then vanished. The clouds 
kept cracking for the width of a single sunray, then oozing closed again. It 
was not cold in the office, thought Dr. Stadler, it was that view that froze 
the place. 

It was not cold today, the chill was in his bones— he thought— the stored 
accumulation of the winter months, when he had had to be distracted from his 
work by an awareness of such a matter as inadequate heating and people had 
talked about conserving fuel. It was preposterous, he thought, this growing 
intrusion of the accidents of nature into the affairs of men: it had never 
mattered before, if a winter happened to be unusually severe; if a flood 
washed out a section of railroad track, one did not spend two weeks eating 
canned vegetables; if an electric storm struck some power station, an 
establishment such as the State Science Institute was not left without 
electricity for five days. Five days of stillness this winter, he thought, 
with the great laboratory motors stopped and irretrievable hours wiped out, 
when his staff had been working on problems that involved the heart of the 
universe. He turned angrily away from the window— but stopped and turned back 
to it again. He did not want to see the book that lay on his desk. 

He wished Dr. Ferris would come. He glanced at his watch: Dr. 

Ferris was late— an astonishing matter— late for an appointment with him— Dr. 
Floyd Ferris, the valet of science, who had always faced him in a manner that 
suggested an apology for having but one hat to take off. 

This was outrageous weather for the month of May, he thought, looking down 
at the river; it was certainly the weather that made him feel as he did, not 
the book. He had placed the book in plain view on his desk, when he had noted 
that his reluctance to see it was more than mere revulsion, that it contained 
the element of an emotion never to be admitted. He told himself that he had 
risen from his desk, not because the book lay there, but merely because he 
had wanted to move, feeling cold. He paced the room, trapped between the desk 
and the window. He would throw that book in the ash can where it belonged, he 
thought, just as soon as he had spoken to Dr. Ferris. 

He watched the patch of green and sunlight on the distant hill, the 
promise of spring in a world that looked as if no grass or bud would ever 
function again. He smiled eagerly— and when the patch vanished, he felt a stab 
of humiliation, at his own eagerness, at the desperate way he had wanted to 
hold it. It reminded him of that interview with the eminent novelist, last 
winter. The novelist had come from Europe to write an article about him— and 
he, who had once despised interviews, had talked eagerly, lengthily, too 
lengthily, seeing a promise of intelligence in the novelist's face, feeling a 
causeless, desperate need to be understood. The article had come out as a 
collection of sentences that gave him exorbitant praise and garbled every 
thought he had expressed. Closing the magazine, he had felt what he was 
feeling now at the desertion of a sunray. 

All right— he thought, turning away from the window— he would concede that 
attacks of loneliness had begun to strike him at times; but it was a 
loneliness to which he was entitled, it was hunger for the response of some 
living, thinking mind. He was so tired of all those people, he thought in 
contemptuous bitterness; he dealt with cosmic rays, while they were unable to 
deal with an electric storm. 

He felt the sudden contraction of his mouth, like a slap denying him the 
right to pursue this course of thought. He was looking at the book on his 
desk. Its glossy jacket was glaring and new; it had been published two weeks 
ago. But I had nothing to do with it!— he screamed to himself; the scream 
seemed wasted on a merciless silence; nothing answered it, no echo of 
forgiveness. The title on the book's jacket was Why Do You Think You Think? 

There was no sound in that courtroom silence within him, no pity, no voice 
of defense— nothing but the paragraphs which his great memory had reprinted on 
his brain: "Thought is a primitive superstition. Reason is an irrational 
idea . 

The childish notion that we are able to think has been mankind's costliest 
error . " 

"What you think you think is an illusion created by your glands, your 
emotions and, in the last analysis, by the content of your stomach." 

"That gray matter you're so proud of is like a mirror in an amusement park 
which transmits to you nothing but distorted signals from a reality forever 
beyond your grasp." 

"The more certain you feel of your rational conclusions, the more certain 
you are to be wrong. Your brain being an instrument of distortion, the more 
active the brain the greater the distortion." 

"The giants of the intellect, whom you admire so much, once taught you 
that the earth was flat and that the atom was the smallest particle of 
matter. The entire history of science is a progression of exploded fallacies, 
not of achievements." 

"The more we know, the more we learn that we know nothing." 

"Only the crassest ignoramus can still hold to the old-fashioned notion 
that seeing is believing. That which you see is the first thing to 
disbelieve . " 

"A scientist knows that a stone is not a stone at all. It is, in fact, 
identical with a feather pillow. Both are only a cloud formation of the same 
invisible, whirling particles. But, you say, you can't use a stone for a 
pillow? Well, that merely proves your helplessness in the face of actual 
reality . " 

"The latest scientific discoveries— such as the tremendous achievements of 
Dr. Robert Stadler— have demonstrated conclusively that our reason is 
incapable of dealing with the nature of the universe. These discoveries have 
led scientists to contradictions which are impossible, according to the human 
mind, but which exist in reality nonetheless. 

If you have not yet heard it, my dear old-fashioned friends, it has now 
been proved that the rational is the insane." 

"Do not expect consistency. Everything is a contradiction of everything 
else. Nothing exists but contradictions." 

"Do not look for 'common sense.' To demand 'sense' is the hallmark of 
nonsense. Nature does not make sense. Nothing makes sense. The only crusaders 
for 'sense' are the studious type of adolescent old maid who can't find a boy 
friend, and the old-fashioned shopkeeper who thinks that the universe is as 
simple as his neat little inventory and beloved cash register." 

"Let us break the chains of the prejudice called Logic. Are we going to be 
stopped by a syllogism?" 

"So you think you're sure of your opinions? You cannot be sure of 
anything. Are you going to endanger the harmony of your community, your 
fellowship with your neighbors, your standing, reputation, good name and 
financial security— for the sake of an illusion? For the sake of the mirage of 
thinking that you think? Are you going to run risks and court disasters— at a 
precarious time like ours— by opposing the existing social order in the name 
of those imaginary notions of yours which you call your convictions? You say 
that you're sure you're right? Nobody is right, or ever can be. You feel that 

the world around you is wrong? You have no means to know it. Everything is 
wrong in human eyes— so why fight it? Don't argue. Accept. Adjust yourself. 
Obey. " 

The book was written by Dr. Floyd Ferris and published by the State 
Science Institute. 

"I had nothing to do with it!" said Dr. Robert Stadler. He stood still by 
the side of his desk, with the uncomfortable feeling of having missed some 
beat of time, of not knowing how long the preceding moment had lasted. He had 
pronounced the words aloud, in a tone of rancorous sarcasm directed at 
whoever had made him say it. 

He shrugged. Resting on the belief that self-mockery is an act of virtue, 
the shrug was the emotional equivalent of the sentence: You're Robert 
Stadler, don't act like a high-school neurotic. He sat down at his desk and 
pushed the book aside with the back of his hand. 

Dr. Floyd Ferris arrived half an hour late. "Sorry," he said, "but my car 
broke down again on the way from Washington and I had a hell of a time trying 
to find somebody to fix it— there's getting to be so damn few cars out on the 
road that half the service stations are closed." 

There was more annoyance than apology in his voice. He sat down without 
waiting for an invitation to do so. 

- Dr. Floyd Ferris would not have been noticed as particularly handsome in 
any other profession, but in the one he had chosen he was always described as 
"that good-looking scientist." He was six feet tall and forty-five years old, 
but he managed to look taller and younger. 

He had an air of immaculate grooming and a ballroom grace of motion, but 
his clothes were severe, his suits being usually black or midnight blue. He 
had a finely traced mustache, and his smooth black hair made the Institute 
office boys say that he used the same shoe polish on both ends of him. He did 
not mind repeating, in the tone of a joke on himself, that a movie producer 
once said he would cast him for the part of a titled European gigolo. He had 
begun his career as a biologist, but that was forgotten long ago; he was 
famous as the Top Co-ordinator of the State Science Institute. 

Dr. Stadler glanced at him with astonishment— the lack of apology was 
unprecedented— and said dryly, "It seems to me that you are spending a great 
deal of your time in Washington." 

"But, Dr. Stadler, wasn't it you who once paid me the compliment of 
calling me the watchdog of this Institute?" said Dr. Ferris pleasantly. 

"Isn't that my most essential duty?" 

"A few of your duties seem to be accumulating right around this place. 
Before I forget it, would you mind telling me what's going on here about that 
oil shortage mess?" 

He could not understand why Dr. Ferris' face tightened into an injured 
look, "You will permit me to say that this is unexpected and unwarranted, " 
said Dr. Ferris in that tone of formality which conceals pain and reveals 
martyrdom. "None of the authorities involved have found cause for criticism. 
We have just submitted a detailed report on the progress of the work to date 
to the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources, and Mr. Wesley 
Mouch has expressed himself as satisfied. We have done our best on that 
project. We have heard no one else describe it as a mess. Considering the 
difficulties of the terrain, the hazards of the fire and the fact that it has 
been only six months since we—" 

"What are you talking about?" asked Dr. Stadler. 

'The Wyatt Reclamation Project. Isn't that what you asked me?" 

"No," said Dr. Stadler, "no, I . . . Wait a moment. Let me get this 
straight. I seem to recall something about this Institute taking charge of a 
reclamation project. What is it that you're reclaiming?" 

"Oil," said Dr. Ferris. "The Wyatt oil fields." 

"That was a fire, wasn't it? In Colorado? That was . . . wait a moment . . 
. that was the man who set fire to his own oil wells." 

"I'm inclined to believe that that's a rumor created by public hysteria," 
said Dr. Ferris dryly. '"A rumor with some undesirable, unpatriotic 
implications. I wouldn't put too much faith in those newspaper stories. 
Personally, I believe that it was an accident and that Ellis Wyatt perished 
in the fire." 

"Well, who owns those fields now?" 

"Nobody— at the moment. There being no will or heirs, the government has 
taken charge of operating the fields— as a measure of public necessity— for 
seven years. If Ellis Wyatt does not return within that time, he will be 
considered officially dead." 

"Well, why did they come to you— to us, for such an unlikely assignment as 
oil pumping?" 

"Because it is a problem of great technological difficulty, requiring the 
services of the best scientific talent available. You see, it is a matter of 
reconstructing the special method of oil extraction that Wyatt had employed. 
His equipment is still there, though in a dreadful condition; some of his 
processes are known, but somehow there is no full record of the complete 
operation or the basic principle involved. That is what we have to 
rediscover . " 

"And how is it going?" 

"The progress is most gratifying. We have just been granted a new and 
larger appropriation. Mr. Wesley Mouch is pleased with our work. 

So are Mr. Balch of the Emergency Commission, Mr. Anderson of Crucial 
Supplies and Mr. Pettibone of Consumers' Protection. I do not see what more 
could be expected of us. The project is fully successful." 

"Have you produced any oil?" 

"No, but we have succeeded in forcing a flow from one of the wells, to the 
extent of six and a half gallons. This, of course, is merely of experimental 
significance, but you must take into consideration the fact that we had to 
spend three full months just to put out the fire, which has now been totally— 
almost totally— extinguished . We have a much tougher problem than Wyatt ever 
had, because he started from scratch while we have to deal with the 
disfigured wreckage of an act of vicious, anti-social sabotage which ... I 
mean to say, it is a difficult problem, but there is no doubt that we will be 
able to solve it." 

"Well, what I really asked you about was the oil shortage here, in the 
Institute. The level of temperature maintained in this building all winter 
was outrageous. They told me that they had to conserve oil. 

Surely you could have seen to it that the matter of keeping this place 
adequately supplied with such things as oil was handled more efficiently." 

"Oh, is that what you had in mind, Dr. Stadler? Oh, but I am so sorry!" 
The words came with a bright smile of relief on Dr. Ferris' 

face; his solicitous manner returned. "Do you mean that the temperature 
was low enough to cause you discomfort?" 

"I mean that I nearly froze to death." 

"But that is unforgivable! Why didn't they tell me? Please accept my 
personal apology, Dr. Stadler, and rest assured that you will never be 
inconvenienced again. The only excuse I can offer for our maintenance 
department is that the shortage of fuel was not due to their negligence, it 
was— oh, I realize that you would not know about it and such matters should 
not take up your invaluable attention— but, you see, the oil shortage last 
winter was a nation-wide crisis." 

"Why? For heaven's sake, don't tell me that those Wyatt fields were the 
only source of oil in the country!" 

"No, no, but the sudden disappearance of a major supply wrought havoc in 
the entire oil market. So the government had to assume control and impose oil 
rationing on the country, in order to protect the essential enterprises. I 
did obtain an unusually large quota for the Institute— 

and only by the special favor of some very special connections— but I feel 
abjectly guilty if this proved insufficient. Rest assured that it will not 
happen again. It is only a temporary emergency. By next winter, we shall have 
the Wyatt fields back in production, and conditions will return to normal. 
Besides, as far as this Institute is concerned, I made all the arrangements 
to convert our furnaces to coal, and it was to be done next month, only the 
Stockton Foundry in Colorado closed down suddenly, without notice— they were 
casting parts for our furnaces, but Andrew Stockton retired, quite 
unexpectedly, and now we have to wait till his nephew reopens the plant." 

"I see. Well, I trust that you will take care of it among all your other 
activities." Dr. Stadler shrugged with annoyance. "It is becoming a little 
ridiculous— the number of technological ventures that an institution of 
science has to handle for the government." 

"But, Dr. Stadler-" 

"I know, I know, it can't be avoided. By the way, what is Project X?" 

Dr. Ferris' eyes shot to him swiftly— an odd, bright glance of alertness, 
that seemed startled, but not frightened. "Where did you hear about Project 
X, Dr. Stadler?" 

"Oh, I heard a couple of your younger boys saying something about it with 
an air of mystery you'd expect from amateur detectives. They told me it was 
something very secret." 

"That's right, Dr. Stadler. It is an extremely secret research project 
which the government has entrusted to us. And it is of utmost importance that 
the newspapers get no word about it." 

"What's the X?" 

"Xylophone. Project Xylophone. That is a code name, of course. 

The work has to do with sound. But I am sure that it would not interest 
you. It is a purely technological undertaking." 

"Yes, do spare me the story. I have no time for your technological 
undertakings . " 

"May I suggest that it would be advisable to refrain from mentioning the 
words 'Project X' to anyone, Dr. Stadler?" 

"Oh, all right, all right. I must say I do not enjoy discussions of that 
kind. " 

"But of course! And I wouldn't forgive myself if I allowed your time to be 
taken up by such concerns. Please feel certain that you may safely leave it 
to me." He made a movement to rise. "Now if this was the reason you wanted to 
see me, please believe that I—" 

"No," said Dr. Stadler slowly. "This was not the reason I wanted to see 
you . " 

Dr. Ferris volunteered no questions, no eager offers of service; he 
remained seated, merely waiting. 

Dr. Stadler reached over and made the book slide from the corner to the 
center of his desk, with a contemptuous flick of one hand. "Will you tell me, 
please," he asked, "what is this piece of indecency?" 

Dr. Ferris did not glance at the book, but kept his eyes fixed on 
Stadler 's for an inexplicable moment; then he leaned back and said with an 
odd smile, "I feel honored that you chose to make such an exception for my 
sake as reading a popular book. This little piece has sold twenty thousand 
copies in two weeks." 

"I have read it . " 


"I expect an explanation." 

"Did you find the text confusing?" 

Dr. Stadler looked at him in bewilderment. "Do you realize what theme you 
chose to treat and in what manner? The style alone, the style, the gutter 
kind of attitude— for a subject of this nature!" 

"Do you think, then, that the content deserved a more dignified form of 
presentation?" The voice was so innocently smooth that Dr. 

Stadler could not decide whether this was mockery. 

"Do you realize what you're preaching in this book?" 

"Since you do not seem to approve of it, Dr. Stadler, I'd rather have you 
think that I wrote it innocently." 

This was it, thought Dr. Stadler, this was the incomprehensible element in 
Ferris' manner: he had supposed that an indication of his disapproval would 
be sufficient, but Ferris seemed to remain untouched by it "If a drunken lout 
could find the power to express himself on paper, " 

said Dr. Stadler, "if he could give voice to his essence— the eternal 
savage, leering his hatred of the mind— this is the sort of book I would 
expect him to write. But to see it come from a scientist, under the imprint 
of this Institute!" 

"But, Dr. Stadler, this book was not intended to be read by scientists. It 
was written for that drunken lout." 

"What do you mean?" 

"For the general public." 

"But, good God! The feeblest imbecile should be able to see the glaring 
contradictions in every one of your statements." 

"Let us put it this way, Dr. Stadler: the man who doesn't see that, 
deserves to believe all my statements." 

"But you've given the prestige of science to that unspeakable stuff! 

It was all right for a disreputable mediocrity like Simon Pritchett to 
drool it as some sort of woozy mysticism— nobody listened to him. But you've 
made them think it's science. Science! You've taken the achievements of the 
mind to destroy the mind. By what right did you use my work to make an 
unwarranted, preposterous switch into another field, pull an inapplicable 
metaphor and draw a monstrous generalization out of what is merely a 
mathematical problem? By what right did you make it sound as if I— I.' — gave my 
sanction to that book?" 

Dr. Ferris did nothing, he merely looked at Dr. Stadler calmly; but the 
calm gave him an air that was almost patronizing. "Now, you see, Dr. Stadler, 
you're speaking as if this book were addressed to a thinking audience. If it 
were, one would have to be concerned with such matters as accuracy, validity, 
logic and the prestige of science. But it isn't. It's addressed to the 
public. And you have always been first to believe that the public does not 
think." He paused, but Dr, Stadler said nothing. 

"This book may have no philosophical value whatever, but it has a great 
psychological value." 

"Just what is that?" 

"You see, Dr. Stadler, people don't want to think. And the deeper they get 
into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they 
feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they'll bless and 
follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who 
makes a virtue— a highly intellectual virtue- 
out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt." 
"And you propose to pander to that?" 
"That is the road to popularity." 
"Why should you seek popularity?" 

Dr. Ferris' eyes moved casually to Dr. Stadler 's face, as if by pure 
accident. "We are a public institution," he answered evenly, "supported by 
public funds." 

"So you tell people that science is a futile fraud which ought to be 
abolished ! " 

"That is a conclusion which could be drawn, in logic, from my book. 
But that is not the conclusion they will draw." 

"And what about the disgrace to the Institute in the eyes of the men of 
intelligence, wherever such may be left?" 
"Why should we worry about them?" 

Dr. Stadler could have regarded the sentence as conceivable, had it been 
uttered with hatred, envy or malice; but the absence of any such emotion, the 
casual ease of the voice, an ease suggesting a chuckle, hit him like a 
moment's glimpse of a realm that could not be taken as part of reality; the 
thing spreading down to his stomach was cold terror. 

"Did you observe the reactions to my book, Dr. Stadler? It was received 
with considerable favor." 

"Yes— and that is what I find impossible to believe." He had to speak, he 
had to speak as if this were a civilized discussion, he could not allow 
himself time to know what it was he had felt for a moment. 

"I am unable to understand the attention you received in all the reputable 
academic magazines and how they could permit themselves to discuss your book 
seriously. If Hugh Akston were around, no academic publication would have 
dared to treat this as a work admissible into the realm of philosophy." 

"He is not around." 

Dr. Stadler felt that there were words which he was now called upon to 
pronounce— and he wished he could end this conversation before he discovered 
what they were. 

"On the other hand," said Dr, Ferris, "the ads for my book— oh, I'm sure 
you wouldn't notice such things as ads— quote a letter of high praise which I 
received from Mr. Wesley Mouch." 

"Who the hell is Mr. Wesley Mouch?" 

Dr. Ferris smiled. "In another year, even you won't ask that question, Dr. 
Stadler. Let us put it this way: Mr. Mouch is the man who is rationing oil— 
for the time being." 

"Then I suggest that you stick to your job. Deal with Mr. Mouch and leave 
him the realm of oil furnaces, but leave the realm of ideas to me." 

"It would be curious to try to formulate the line of demarcation, " 

said Dr. Ferris, in the tone of an idle academic remark. "But if we're 
talking about my book, why, then we're talking about the realm of public 
relations." He turned to point solicitously at the mathematical formulas 
chalked on the blackboard. "Dr. Stadler, it would be disastrous if you 
allowed the realm of public relations to distract you from the work which you 
alone on earth are capable of doing." 

It was said with obsequious deference, and Dr. Stadler could not tell what 
made him hear in it the sentence: "Stick to your blackboard!" 

He felt a biting irritation and he switched it against himself, thinking 
angrily that he had to get rid of these suspicions. 

"Public relations?" he said contemptuously. "I don't see any practical 
purpose in your book. I don't see what it's intended to accomplish." 

"Don't you?" Dr. Ferrisl eyes flickered briefly to his face; the sparkle 
of insolence was too swift to be identified with certainty. 

"I cannot permit myself to consider certain things as possible in a 
civilized society," Dr. Stadler said sternly. 

"That is admirably exact," said Dr. Ferris cheerfully. "You cannot permit 
yourself . " 

Dr. Ferris rose, being first to indicate that the interview was ended. 

"Please call for me whenever anything occurs in this Institute to cause 
you discomfort, Dr. Stadler," he said. "It is my privilege always to be at 
your service . " 

Knowing that he had to assert his authority, smothering the shameful 
realization of the sort of substitute he was choosing, Dr. Stadler said 
imperiously, in a tone of sarcastic rudeness, "The next time I call for you, 
you'd better do something about that car of yours." 

"Yes, Dr. Stadler. I shall make certain never to be late again, and I beg 
you to forgive me." Dr. Ferris responded as if playing a part on cue; as if 
he were pleased that Dr. Stadler had learned, at last, the modern method of 
communication. "My car has been causing me a great deal of trouble, it's 
falling to pieces, and I had ordered a new one sometime ago, the best one on 
the market, a Hammond convertible— 

but Lawrence Hammond went out of business last week, without reason or 
warning, so now I'm stuck. Those bastards seem to be vanishing somewhere. 
Something will have to be done about it." 

When Ferris had gone, Dr. Stadler sat at his desk, his shoulders shrinking 
together, conscious only of a desperate wish not to be seen by anyone. In the 
fog of the pain which he would not define, there was also the desperate 
feeling that no one— no one of those he valued— 

would ever wish to see him again. 

He knew the words which he had not uttered. He had not said that he would 
denounce the book in public and repudiate it in the name of the Institute. He 
had not said it, because he had been afraid to discover that the threat would 
leave Ferris unmoved, that Ferris was safe, that the word of Dr. Robert 
Stadler had no power any longer. And while he told himself that he would 
consider later the question of making a public protest, he knew that he would 
not make it. 

He picked up the book and let it drop into the wastebasket. 

A face came to his mind, suddenly and clearly, as if he were seeing the 
purity of its every line, a young face he had not permitted himself to recall 
for years. He thought: